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4th of July & Outer Banks Traditions

Traditiona and familiies on the beach in Kitty Hawk, July 4, 2015.

The 4th of July is all about tradition. Certainly the tradition of fireworks, hotdogs and hamburgers . . . but it’s more than that, especially on the Outer Banks where much of that tradition is as simple as a day at the beach.

We almost lost a part of that tradition yesterday but there was just enough sunshine and the timing was just right to get in the fireworks. 

The day started hot and humid and perfect for a dip into the sea, and the beach was packed from 10 o’clock on, mostly with families. One of the great things about the tradition of being at the beach is a father can take his son or daughter into the surf play with then on a boogie board and be every bit as childlike as he wishes . . . and no one thinks he’s being anything other than a good parent.

Just beyond the surf, kayakers and SUP paddlers were drifting by, the light wind from the south and flat seas made for almost perfect conditions. On the beach families were setting up tents with American flags flying from them, ready to grill burgers and dogs and celebrate legacy of freedom that is unprecedented in world history.

It was a close call for the fireworks in Kill Devil Hills an Nags Head. Storms rolled through the area in the afternoon—Nags Head especially was hard hit—but the air cleared about 6:00, the next storms didn’t roll in until 11:00 and it was a perfect evening for a spectacular fireworks display.

The 4th of July is a day filled with tradition on the Outer Banks; for some it’s been a way of life for years. For others the tradition is just beginning. Either way, it’s worth being a part of it.

Joe Lamb, Jr.-What's Happening Independence Day Weekeind

For most of the the country, July 4th falling on a Saturday makes scheduling around it easier. On the Outer Banks, though, Saturday is changeover day with a few 100,000 people coming and going, so some rearranging of festivities seemed in order.

Duck and Corolla seem to be the two places most affected and look for their traditional Independence Day celebrations on Friday.

The Duck Independence Day Parade will take place Friday morning at 9:30 a.m. This is a “don’t miss it event” that features marching jugglers, dogs, firetrucks and an amazing spirit of small town America.

In Corolla the Whalehead Club Fireworks will be held that evening, Friday with the festivities opening at 6:00. Look for the fireworks about 8:45-9:00. There’s a good reason why this is one of the most popular Independence Day activities on the Outer Banks. The setting is exquisite, there’s a fair-like atmosphere designed  for families that includes live music, festival food and arts and crafts.

Kill Devil Hills and Nags Head have firework displays scheduled to begin at dusk. KDH will hold their festivities at Avalon Pier, and Nags Head will be using Nags Head Pier. Find a comfortable place on the beach and think about the beauty of painting the sky with fireworks on the edge of a continent.

Manteo hosts an all day affair with a street fare beginning about noon and fireworks over Shallow Bag Bay in the evening. Anyone looking for the spirit of Americana in a small town setting, this is the place to be. 

Five OBX Places to Hear Live Music

Sunset view from the deck at Aqua Restaurant in Duck.

The Outer Banks may be the best family vacation spot on the East Coast, which places pretty high up there in world rankings. In keeping with that, everyone, it seems—Joe Lamb, Jr. included—has posted a list of things to do with kids. But part of having a successful family vacation is a date night for Mom and Dad, so here is our Joe Lamb, Jr. list of five Outer Banks places to hear live music.

This is not even close to a complete list.


Located on Currituck Sound in Duck, Aqua may have the most spectacular setting on the Outer Banks for live music. Great food, wonderful service, outdoor seating and mellow sounds—it doesn’t get much better than this.


Featuring what is probably the largest wine and beer selection on the Outer Banks, Trio, located in Kitty Hawk has a nice casual feel to it. Seating is casual and comfortable; the cheese plates and sandwiches are marvelous. The upstairs, especially is perfect for intimate conversation.

Outer Banks Brewing Station

Yes, the Outer Banks Brewing Station in Kill Devil Hills brews their own beer, and it is very good—award winning, actually. And the food is excellent. Late night it becomes the place for live music and dancing. This is one of the places on the Outer Banks where bigger name bands play.

Pamlico Jack’s

Pamlico Jack's on the Roanoke Sound in Nags Head, the setting is about as beautiful as it gets. Drinks are served from a pirate’s galley built into the replica ship. Appetizers are reasonably priced and good.

Poor Richards

Remember when you were in college and there was this bar where everyone would go, you were elbow to elbow with friends, acquaintances and strangers you were about to meet . . . That’s Poor Richard’s in Manteo, where the beer is cold, the music fun and the bar is small.

Joe Lamb, Jr. Advice for a Hot OBX Day

Great advice from the lifeguards at the Black Pelican Beach Access in Kitty Hawk.

It’s hot today. It’s really hot. Just checked Weather Underground and the dubious prize for the hottest place in North Carolina for today goes to Kill Devil Hills topping out at 99 degrees.

Luckily the ocean temperature is just perfect right now, hovering around 68-70 degrees. A bit of a shock to the system when toes hit the water, but once in, there doesn’t seem to be a good reason to get out. Of course, humans can’t take up permanent residence in the sea, and once back on dry land there are a couple of thing it is important to do when it get this hot.

First of all—drink water . . . and lots of it. That huge, frosted soda from a convenience store? It’s probably a diuretic, meaning it flushes fluids out of your system, not what you want happening when the temperature is hovering around 100. Same thing with that tall cold beer—also a diuretic. Enjoy it tonight. Enjoy two or three of them tonight; but the beach on a blazing hot day is not the best time for a beer.

Sunscreen, sunscreen, sunscreen. There is no shade on the beach, unless you bring it with you, which is a good idea. Putting aside medical concerns about the longterm effects of overexposure to the sun, sunburn is painful and uncomfortable and too much sun at one time can cause a condition called sun poisoning.

One more piece of advice: wear sandals on the hot parts of the beach. On a hot day like today, the sand does get hot enough to burn the soles of your feet.

It looks like daytime temperatures are going to moderate for a while, but it’s a sure thing that they’ll be climbing again. This is the Outer Banks of North Carolina, after all.

SUP-A Great Way to Tour the Outer Banks

SUP—Stand Up Paddleboarding has become one of the most popular water sports going in the past five or six years. Easy to learn with options for users from a relaxing paddle on flat water to riding the surf along the ocean, the it seems like people are out on SUPs everywhere along the Outer Banks.

Kitty Hawk Kites sponsored the SUPtastic race today, a three mile loop around Roanoke Island Festival Park. Starting at the bridge to the park, paddlers circled Ice Plant Island, which is where the Park is located. 

For most of the participants, once around was fine; for the more hardcore competitors, a second trip around the island brought the race to a six mile distance.

Kitty Hawk Kites is probably has the largest inventory of rental boards around, but there are a lot of Outer Banks businesses offering SUP lessons, rentals and sales—too many to list them all here. 

For a more complete listing of watersport companies—most of whom rent SUPs—check out our Joe Lamb, Jr. Concierge page. Click on the link to waterspouts and go have some fun on the water.

Bonner Bridge Gets Green Light to Proceed

Press conference announcing the agreement between NCDOT and the SELC allowing construction of a new Bonner Bridge. Governor McCrory at the podium.

Falling somewhere between miraculous and historic, NCDOT and the Southern Environmental Law Center (SELC) have reached an agreement that will allow construction of a replacement span for the Bonner Bridge to go forward without further legal action. The bridge, linking the northern Outer Banks with Hatteras Island has been slated for replacement for over 10 years.

Representing Defenders of Wildlife and the National Wildlife Refuge Association, the SELC had been battling NCDOT in court for four years, and the agreement involves compromise on both sides. The SELC will cease legal action and allow the parallel replacement span for the aging bridge over Oregon Inlet to be built. 

NCDOT will revisit the hot spot alternatives in the southern part of Pea Island National Wildlife Refuge that they were going to bridge. Instead they have agreed that the preferred alternative will be to reroute the road to the west into the Pamlico Sound.

There are still hurdles to cross—US Fish & Wildlife will have to issue a new right of way for the proposed routes in the sound; no one know what the Bonner replacement bridge will cost. Four years ago the price tag was $215.8 million, but state officials acknowledge the cost of construction has gone up.

However, none of the remaining barriers should keep the project from moving forward.

Describing a Perfect Outer Banks Beach Day

Here at Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates we don’t take credit for perfect Outer Banks beach days, but we’re also not shy about mentioning them when they come along. Almost any day on the beach is is an improvement over any other place, but every once in a while, a day comes along that calls out for special mention.

Today was one of those days.

To understand what made today so perfect a little of physics . . . or may meteorology . . . or maybe a combination

It’s hot today—temperatures in the low 90’s not much of a breeze, but the ocean water temperature is hovering around 69 or 70. Walking from the car to the beach, perspiration forms immediately; step over the dune line and the air temperature falls by four or five degrees making it warm but tolerable. 

Not much wave action today—surfers will have to wait for another chance, but the gentle waves and cool water temperature made for a something special on the beach.

At first there’s a shock entering the water because the difference between the air and water temperature is significant, and then the body adjusts and it becomes the most invigorating, extraordinary sensation imaginable. 

Oh sure, some perfectly forgettable but wonderfully readable novel calls to you at the beach chair and there’s a cold drink in the cooler, but for that 10 or 15 minutes in the water, the world is a perfect place.


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