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Welcome to the holidays on the islands, and let us hear from you

Welcome to the 2013 Christmas on the Islands Page, which features holiday shopping tips and information and news about events during November and December.

We welcome hearing from our readers about favorite places to shop or dine during the holidays, stories of your holidays on Hatteras or Ocracoke, and photos of the holiday lights and activities. We’ll be happy to publish your holiday recipes also.

You can send stories, photos, recipes or other information to

We hope our readers will also shop locally for their holiday gifts and other needs.  Our small, locally owned businesses need our support all year round.

Most of the advertisers in our holiday shopping guide have websites, so you can shop even if you won’t be here.

The Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays are a great time to be on the islands. Have a terrific holiday season and enjoy.

(For information about advertising on our shopping guide, e-mail


Hatteras Village Christmas Parade was well worth the wait…WITH SLIDE SHOW

The Hatteras Village Christmas Parade is one of the most anticipated events of the island’s holiday season, so when it was postponed by one week this year, because of the threat of bad weather, there were concerns about decreased participation and fears that the parade might lose some of its magic.

But by 2 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 21, the shoulders of Highway 12 were packed with eager children, ready to collect the candy and prizes that would surely be tossed from the festive floats, and smiling adults, enjoying the sunny, unseasonably warm weather and soaking up the abundant holiday cheer.  
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Enjoying the Christmas lights on Hatteras Island…WITH SLIDE SHOW

There don’t seem to be as many outdoor light displays at homes and businesses on Hatteras Island this year – perhaps because Thanksgiving was so late this year and perhaps because the Bonner Bridge closure on Dec. 3 stressed out islanders and distracted them from the upcoming Christmas holiday.

The bridge is open again, and some lights are appearing on the island.

Island Free Press photographer Don Bowers went out and took some photos of them to share with our readers.

If your house or business isn’t in our slide show, please e-mail us photos at and we will add them.

And take a ride around the villages and enjoys the sights of the season.


Making Christmas brighter for Hatteras Island children

Hatteras Island has endured setbacks over the last few years that will affect some children’s Christmas, so Koru Village is sponsoring two Toys for Tots drop off stations and an Angel Tree.

“This holiday season we can all help in assuring that each child on Hatteras Island wakes up to the excitement and joy that Christmas has to offer,” said founder of Koru Village Joe Thompson.

“Please help the Toys for Tots drive at Koru Village.  It is a great way to spread the holiday cheer and help our children here on Hatteras Island,” said Dare County Toys for Tots coordinator Keri Simmons.

You can please drop a toy off in Koru Village’s Toys for Tots box or come pick an angel off the Angel Tree in the lobby.

“The partnership between Koru Village and the Angel Tree project has been going on for two years.  Taking an angel from Koru’s Christmas tree and providing a gift is such an important part of sharing goodwill and providing for our Hatteras Island community.  It warms the heart and puts extra joy in the holiday season,” said Angel Tree coordinator Jane Grimm.

All toys will remain on Hatteras Island, so spread the holiday spirit by donating a toy to Toys for Tots or picking an angel off the Angel Tree today. All toys must be new and unopened and can be delivered to Koru Village seven days a week during normal operating hours.

For more information, visit or call 252-995-3125.


Hatteras Island Angel Gift accepting applications and donations

Hatteras Island Angel Gift returns this year to help local children have a brighter Christmas. The wishes and needs of these children are fulfilled by a coalition of individuals, families, businesses, churches, service organizations, Toys for Tots, and Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative’s Operation Santa Claus. 

Off-island sponsors and contributors who hold Hatteras Island dear to their hearts also help meet our needs.  This year, Hatteras Methodist charge is the primary coordinator of the program.
Applications are being accepted by interview at the Dare County Department of Social Services office in Frisco on Wednesday, Nov. 20, from 10 a.m. - 3 p.m. and applications should be completed by Nov. 27.  If you have questions, please call (252)475-9320.  If you are unable to apply at Social Services, please contact Linda O’Neal of Hatteras Methodist Church at 252-475-4390.
Toys for Tots boxes will be placed at various community locations for drop off of new and unwrapped toys.  By late November, specific wishes will be on trees at Spa Koru and the local banks.  Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative’s office in Buxton is also a drop off location for donations. 

Monetary donations may be sent care of Cape Hatteras Electric Cooperative/Operation Santa Claus at PO Box 9, Buxton NC 27920 or to Hatteras United Methodist Church, PO Box 310, Hatteras NC 27943.

If you or your organization would like to sponsor all of a child’s wishes and needs or to volunteer in to help, please contact Social Services at 252-475-9320 or Hatteras United Methodist Church 252-986-2149.


A guide to dining out during the holidays

The weather is much cooler, the days are getting shorter, and there are many fewer visitors on Hatteras and Ocracoke. Many of the islands’ restaurants have already closed and others will be closing shortly.

However, visiting during the holidays is much more popular with tourists than it once was. Spending Thanksgiving or Christmas by the ocean when there is less hustle and bustle is appealing to many. So if you are planning as visit to the islands this holiday season, we have some information for you if you don’t want to be fixing all of your meals yourself while you are on vacation.  
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Why I miss Hatteras Island Christmas: An ode to bad attire and ingenuity with Christmas lights

So it has been nearly a year since I decided to live full-time in a non-Hatteras Island locale, and yet the reasons why island life is superior keep making themselves crystal clear, despite the obvious benefits of being a North Carolina highlander. For example, if we get saltwater flooding at 2,300 feet above sea level, at least we’ll know we were the last ones left.. (Also, did I mention there’s a Taco Bell 20 minutes away?)

But Christmas and the holidays are a particularly difficult time to be away from home, because if you’re anything like me, it can be very hard to find a community that accepts your overall oddness, your poor choice of parade costumes, and your inappropriately obscene, albeit not intentionally so, Christmas light displays.  
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20th annual island-wide food drive has begun

It’s time again to get those shelves at the Hatteras Island Food Pantry restocked!   Read More


Ocracoke homes and businesses are lit up for the holidays….WITH SLIDE SHOW

Homeowners and owners of business are lighting up Ocracoke for the Christmas season.  The judging for the annual decorating contest will be Dec. 20.  
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Annual Oyster Roast on Ocracoke will be Dec. 28

The Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Association is gearing up for its eighth annual Oyster Roast from 2 to 5 p.m., on Saturday, Dec. 28, at the Ocracoke Seafood Company.  All are welcome to attend, bring their oyster shuckers, and shuck away for this all-you-can-eat fundraiser for OWWA.

“We do this for the community and to thank people for their support,” says Patty Plyler, who, along with her husband fisherman Hardy Plyler, works at the Fish House, as it is known locally.  “Folks just love it,” she continues, “and they come from all over.”

The Fish House is the place on Ocracoke to buy fresh seafood brought in from local waters by island fishermen. It is owned by OWWA, which saved “the last fish house” on the island several years ago.  Last year, the fundraiser grossed about $6,000 and proceeds will help fund OWWA’s education and outreach activities.

For this annual oyster fest, the group sets up two rows of plywood tables on top of saw horses. Then they dump piles of steamed oysters on the tables while patrons stand and shuck away.  Included in the price of admission (to be determined when the oysters are purchased) is cocktail sauce, vinegar, Saltine crackers and steamed shrimp.

This year, the watermen are shooting to obtain 40 bushels of the prized eating. Last year, the crowd of about 250 consumed 30 bushels of oysters, 225 pounds of shrimp, and two pots of the fish stew.  Availability of food is first-come, first-served and there are no advance ticket sales. Desserts and hot cider are offered starting at 3 pm in the Ocracoke Working Watermen’s Exhibit in Community Square.  OWWA invites everyone to bring a dessert to share, a new addition that began last year.

And while good weather always helps boost attendance, inclement weather will not cancel the event, but it will move inside.

Local artist Barbara Adams created this year’s poster, which features waterman Morty Gaskill, James Barrie Gaskill’s son.

A guide to Ocracoke’s holiday events

The spirit of the season is alive and well on Ocracoke, where a number of traditional events are planned for villagers and visitors.

They are:

Dec. 18: Christmas caroling; meet at 5 p.m. at Ocracoke Assembly of God Church, Lighthouse Road.  Chili supper to follow for the carolers.

Dec. 19: Ocracoke School Christmas Program. Ocracoke School gym at 7 p.m.

Dec. 21: Holiday basketball tournament at Ocracoke School.

Dec. 21: Live Nativity. 5:30 p.m. Ocracoke United Methodist Church lawn.

Dec. 24: Christmas Eve service at Ocracoke United Methodist Church at 7 p.m.

Dec. 28: Ocracoke Working Watermen’s eighth annual Oyster Roast from 2 to 5 p.m. Ocracoke Fish House.