Puppets Star in The Night Before Christmas

Tony Gabrielle (L) Christmas Elf (C) and James Cooper explaining how puppets work.
Tony Gabrielle (L) Christmas Elf (C) and James Cooper explaining how puppets work.

“The Night Before Christmas” is a classic Christmas poem, a wonderful tale that combines the magic of the holidays with imagination in a way that seems to touch everyone.

For good reason it has become standard fare for the season, but sometimes a little twist to the expected is good for the soul.

Rainbow Puppet Productions came to Roanoke Island Festival Park on Saturday with their puppet production of the classic Clement Moore poem and it was wonderful.

There was no doubt that this was a kid’s show, but that’s alright. The holidays, after all, are a truly special time for the young and young at heart.

The puppets are cute. The puppeteers came out from behind the curtain and talked to the kids about the puppet. There was a short break midway through where everyone sang Jingle Bells and true to the story, the puppet little boy and girl got the gift they most wanted.

There were certainly some variations on the “The Night Before Christmas” telling.

A brief vignette began the show featuring Little Red Riding Hood and BB (as in Big Bad) Wolf. BB Wolf, as it turns out, isn’t really all that bad.

Before the poem begins, the script injects a nice little message reminding children to to “reach out with love for everyone.”

The story also introduces us to all eight reindeer, giving each one it’s own personality.

The poem is narrated by Grandpa, but the voice is Mickey Rooney. Rooney had worked with the Rainbow Puppets on a number of projects before he passed away in 2014 and one of them was narrating “The Night Before Christmas.”

Rainbow Puppet Productions was a regular part of the RIFP children’s entertainment last summer, and according to staff at RIFP and members of the Rainbow Puppets they should be back again in 2017.

Hopefully—the show brought a lot of smiles, some giggles and was a great reminder of the magic of the season.

An Outer Banks Night at the Opera

Left to Right: Christopher Morales, Andrew Paulson, Peter Lake. “Fugue for Tin Horns."
Left to Right: Christopher Morales, Andrew Paulson, Peter Lake. “Fugue for Tin Horns.”

The Virginia Opera Company came to the Outer Banks on Wednesday and after an evening of music with their Emerging Artists the verdict is a huge thank you for some great performances and wonderful music.

The evening featured duets and arias from classic Italian opera with a few American show tunes to end the night.

Presented at All Saints Episcopal Church in Southern Shores the setting was perfect—the acoustics in the chapel room were a good match for opera and with a relatively small audience there was a feeling of intimacy.

The performers were younger members of the Virginia Opera—mostly, it would appear, in their 20s. Younger, perhaps, but these were professional singers in every sense of the word.

What made the evening particularly pleasant was how well they acted the story of the songs. Even with little–make that no–understanding Italian, many of the stories behind the music was clear.

One of the best of the evening was the treatment Christine Suits and Olivia Yokers gave to “Sull’aria” an aria from the Marriage of Figaro. In the opera, a countess and her servant are conspiring to expose the infidelities of the count .

For Suits and Yokers the duet suggested two high school or college girls putting their heads together to dupe some boy into an action the boy had not expected. Everything about their presentation suggested professionals using their skills to make music come alive..

“Fugue for Tin Horns” from Guys and Dolls was one of the last songs performed. Three guys, Peter Lake, Christopher Morales and Andrew Paulson, trying to pick a winning horse, studying three papers…and they are clearly not on the same page.

It’s easy to tell that’s the case, because the three of them are singing three different songs simultaneously—yet it all merges and blends together for a great effect.

A wonderful night of music, presented by the Don and Catharine Bryan Art Series.

Outer Banks Party at Big Curri-Shuck

Lined up to shuck oysters and pick crab at the Annual Big Curri-Shuck.
Lined up to shuck oysters and pick crab at the Annual Big Curri-Shuck.

The 2016 version of the Annual Big Curri-shuck? Now that was a great party.

The premise of Curri-shuck is simple. Gather everyone together the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Give people all they can eat steamed oysters, crab and pulled pork barbecue, have some great local beers on tap, sample wine from Sanctuary Vineyards the host for the event and throw in some really good music.

It also helps that the event is really kid friendly with hayrides all day long.

Two local businesses really stepped up to put the event together—Sanctuary Vineyards in Jarvisburg, where the event was held and I Got Your Crabs down in Kitty Hawk on the Outer Banks provided the oysters and crabs.

As much as it can be, everything is local. Hunter Stuart, who owns I Got Your Crabs is a commercial fisherman, and he is still out on Currituck Sound from time to time, pulling in crab pots.

The oysters were definitely from the Southeast. Difficult to know if they were North Carolina oysters, but a lot of them had miniature crabs in them. The crabs are called pea crabs and they find a happy little home inside the oysters, grabbing a little bit of food as the oyster brings water in to  filter through its system.

They are considered a delicacy, although for anyone who doesn’t know about them and pops open a raw oyster, seeing an itsy bitsy crab scuttle across the oyster can be disconcerting. Of course, the Curri-Shuck oysters were steamed, so no movement from the pea crabs.

The presence of the pea crabs, though, means the oysters had to come from North Carolina or a neighboring state; pea crabs only live in the Southeastern US.

It was a bit cool when things started—bright sunshine but a brisk north wind kept temperatures down. However, gather about 1000 people together, put them inside a tent and pretty soon things warm up.

The music helped too. Croatan Highway and the Dave Cynar Band were fantastic—country with a touch of rock ’n’ roll.

Here at Joe Lamb, Jr. we’re already marking our calendars for next year. Saturday November 25, 2017 looks like it will be the date. Hope to see you there.

A Day of Thanksgiving on the Outer Banks


It’s a rainy Thanksgiving here on the Outer Banks, but that’s ok—we need the rain.

The holiday, especially on the Outer Banks has in so many way become what it was originally meant to be—a time for family and friends to gather and give thanks for those moment when we can spend some time together.

Those of us who live here have the turkey or ham or whatever the dinner is going to be in our ovens and relatives we haven’t seen for a while are sitting around sharing memories. It is not only the residents, though. Thanksgiving week has become a special time for many or our property owners and a lot of our visitors take the long weekend as a chance to bring family together in a favorite location.

In the sense that Thanksgiving is a time for family, it’s probably much like many other places in the United States with brothers, uncles and cousins coming for three or four days to reestablish the bonds of family and to recall that the very things that mark us as different are also the very things that bind us together.

Of course, all those other places, wherever they may be, don’t have the advantage of picture perfect settings in one of the most beautiful places on earth…but regardless of the location, Thanksgiving has a way of bringing us together.

It’s an important message; something that bears recalling.

When Abraham Lincoln proclaimed the first national day of thanksgiving in 1863 the Civil War was still raging, yet he began his proclamation with words of gratitude. “The year that is drawing toward its close has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and healthful skies,” he wrote.

Words to recall as we sit down to Thanksgiving dinner in the year 2016.

Almost Home Cooked Holiday Meal


One of the great traditions on the Outer Banks is gathering for holidays. That’s not just those of us who live here, it also homeowners and visitors coming to stay for a special November treat or to celebrate Christmas and the New Year.

Tradition holds that someone spends most of the day in the kitchen getting everything ready and that can be a lot of fun, especially if everyone chips in. However, recognizing that sometimes it’s all about spending time together and not time in the kitchen, here are some Outer Banks places to order a holiday meal.

It may be a bit late for a Thanksgiving dinner, depending on the business, but these meal should also be available at Christmas.

Tommy’s Market

1242 Duck Road



Tommy’s Market features an extensive selection of options for holiday meals. They can even fry the smaller turkeys. Spiral cut hams and steaks are also available. And a huge selection of side dishes and desserts.

Coastal Provisions

1 Ocean Blvd. (Southern Shores Crossing)

Southern Shores


Holiday Feast

  • Oven Ready Turkey (12lb average, brined and seasoned, ready to cook)
  • Traditional stuffing
  • Creamy mashed potatoes
  • Green bean casserole
  • Cranberry orang relish
  • Turkey Gravy
  • Soft Rolls

The turkey is raw and will have to be cooked, but it is seasoned and ready for the oven. Everything else is fully prepared.

There is a very extensive list of main and side dishes in addition to the dinner.

Harris Teeter

601 Currituck Clubhouse Dr. (The Shops at the Currituck Club)


(252) 453-0153

5400 N Croatan Hwy (Shoreside Shopping Center)

Kitty Hawk

(252) 261-2220

2012 S Croatan Hwy

Kill Devil Hills

(252) 449-9191

Turkey Thanksgiving Dinner, for 8-10 people

Fully-Cooked Butterball Turkey, 9-12 lb

Cornbread Dressing, 2 lb

Creamed Corn, 2 lb

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, 2 lb

Turkey Gravy, 16 oz

Cranberry Relish, 18 oz

Spiral Ham Thanksgiving Dinner, for 8-10 people

Spiral Sliced Ham, 7-9 lb

Sweet Potato Casserole, 2 lb

Creamed Corn, 2 lb

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, 2 lb

Prime Rib Thanksgiving Dinner, for 6-8 people

Boneless Prime Rib, 4 lb

Yukon Gold Mashed Potatoes, 2 lb

Creamed Corn, 2 lb

Sweet Potato Casserole, 2 lb

The Fresh Market

5000 S Croatan Hwy

Nags Head

(252) 255-5022

Traditional Holiday Dinner

10 – 12 lb Fully Cooked turkey

3 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes

3 lbs Traditional Herb Stuffing

30 oz Turkey Gravy

16 oz Cranberry Relish with Walnuts

12 ct. Yeast Rolls

Deluxe Holiday Meal

11 – 13 lb Fully Cooked Turkey

3 lb Chef Carving Ham

4 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes

3 lbs Traditional Herb Stuffing

30 oz Turkey Gravy

2 lbs Corn Souffle

2lbs Smokey Green Beans in Bacon Sauce

16 oz Cranberry Relish with Walnuts

24 ct. Yeast Rolls

Holiday Meal for Smaller Gatherings

5 lb Fully Cooked Turkey Breast

2 lbs Yukon Gold Potatoes

2 lbs Traditional Herb Stuffing

1 lb Smokey Green Beans in Bacon Sauce

15 oz Turkey Gravy

8 oz Cranberry Relish

Thanksgiving Start of Outer Banks Holiday Traditions

Decorations at the Elizabethan Gardens Grand Illumination.
Decorations at the Elizabethan Gardens Grand Illumination.

Thanksgiving is a pretty special holiday on the Outer Banks. It is certainly a family time when many of our homeowners come with their children, grandchildren, brothers and sisters to celebrate the holiday. Of course for the those of us who live here, it’s much the same—a day to treasure time with family and close friends.

The holiday weekend is also when many of the traditions that have become so much a part of our season fill the days.

We’re highlighting four that are occurring over Thanksgiving weekend but there is much more to do on the Outer Banks. Check out our Joe Lamb, Jr. Event Listings for more information.

Grand Illumination


Friday, November 25

Elizabethan Gardens, Roanoke Island

Every December the Elizabethan Gardens fills the paths, plants and trees of the Gardens with hundreds of thousands of lights. It is a wonderful, dazzling spectacle and one that creates a lifetime memory.

The Grand Illumination is the first night of the event and includes children’s and high schools choirs, hot chocolate and a visit for Santa Claus.

Hanging with Santa and Kites with Lights


Friday & Saturday, November 25, 26

Kitty Hawk Kites, Nags Head

Thanksgiving is traditionally when Santa makes his first appearance and the jolly elf has been stopping by Kitty Hawk Kites at Jockey’s Ridge Crossing for as long as anyone can remember. Friday and Saturday, Santa stops by for a visit, late morning to early afternoon. Saturday evening, huge kites take to the sky over Jockey’s Ridge State Park festooned with lights.



Saturday, November 26

Sanctuary Vineyards, Jarvisburg

Oysters, and lot of them…all you can eat. Steamed to perfection, local beer and wine, crab and barbecue while it lasts. Sanctuary Vineyards is part of a working farm and there are hayrides for kids and kids at heart as well as live music.

Christmas Arts and Craft Fair


Saturday, November 26

Baum Center, Kill Devil Hills

A great event for a great cause. Proceeds benefit the Outer Banks Woman’s Club scholarship program and charitable giving. Arts, crafts and homemade goodies. What’s not to like?

Perfect Conditions Greet OBX Marathon Runners

Marathoners on the multi-use path by Kitty Hawk Bay.
Marathoners on the multi-use path by Kitty Hawk Bay.

It would be hard to imagine better weather for the 11th running of the Outer Banks marathon. Cool temperatures at the start on Kitty Hawk Road, almost no wind for the entire time and beautiful sunshine. 

Blair Teal from Charlotte, North Carolina posted the best time crossing the finish line in Manteo at 2:22. For the women it was Svetlana Pretot from Morristown, New Jersey finishing at 2:53.

A regular part of the Outer Banks Veterans Day mix, the Outer Banks Marathon has become far more than a one race and done race. Organized by Outer Banks Sporting Events, over the past ten years since the first race was run, the event has become a weekend extravaganza featuring the Southern Fried Half Marathon—which had over 2400 participants this year—as well as everything from a Family Fun Run to the Southern 6 Run, which is almost a 10k.

Widely seen praised as one of the most beautiful marathons on the circuit, it is a qualifying heat for the Boston Marathon.

The starting line is on the Woods Road in Kitty Hawk under the canopy of the hardwood trees of Kitty Hawk Woods. The route parallels Kitty Hawk Bay, eventually winding through Nags Head Woods.

The finish line on the waterfront in Mateo is adds to the flavor of a unique Outer Banks experience.

The Outer Banks Marathon began its life as an offseason reason for visitors to come to the Outer Banks and a fundraiser for the Dare Education Foundation. Over the years it has grown in popularity and its success has enabled the OBSE to fund two Outer Banks nonprofits—the DEF and the Outer Banks Relief Foundation.

Outer Banks Autumn Foliage

Autumn foliage reflected on a pond in Nags Head Woods.
Autumn foliage reflected on a pond in Nags Head Woods.

Autumn has come to the Outer Banks and even though the climate is not as extreme as the mountains, the fall foliage is still beautiful. Step away from the beach and there is a whole world of color waiting to be explored in the maritime forests of the Outer Banks.

Here are three easy paths to explore. Two are in Kitty Hawk, the other just a little south on the Kill Devil Hills/Nags Head town line.

Kitty Hawk Woods
Along a hiking trail in Kitty Hawk Woods.
Along a hiking trail in Kitty Hawk Woods.

Kitty Hawk Woods is almost 2000 acres of dense forest that is part of the North Carolina Coastal Reserve and National Estuarine System. Lying in the heart of Kitty Hawk, relict sand dunes create rolling hills that descend to verdant marsh and swamp. The Woods Road, aptly named since it bisects the maritime forest, has a marvelous multi-use path that parallels the road beginning at US158.

The paved path is a great introduction to the beauty of the reserve, but there are also some wonderful hiking paths along the sound. Stop by the office at 4352 The Woods Road, Kitty Hawk, or check out the trail map online.

Sandy Run Park
Seen along the path at Sandy Run Park.
Seen along the path at Sandy Run Park.

A perfect place in Kitty Hawk to take the whole family, Sandy Run Park is an absolute gem of a little park. A half-mile boardwalk and very well marked dirt path loop around a small pond and wetlands.

Part of the Town of Kitty Hawk’s Park and Rec, the park includes catch and release fishing sites and a kayak put in. On a mild autumn day, there may not be a better place on the Outer Banks to introduce kids to the beauty of the natural world.

Nags Head Woods
Nags Head Woods in the fall.
Nags Head Woods in the fall.

Steep hills descend into deep ravines that end in marsh and swamp are the dominant features of Nags Head Woods. As the hills, which are actually sand dunes that have become covered in a more dense soil, rise above the wetlands, a dense hardwood forest has formed and the some of the most spectacular autumn colors on the Outer Banks can be found here.

The easiest way to get to Nags Head Woods is to turn at the light Pigman’s Barbecue in Kill Devil Hills—that’s the intersection of the Bypass (US 158) and Ocean Acres. Follow the road until it becomes a dirt road. The visitor’s center will be on the left at the bottom of the hill.

Part of the Nature Conservancy, there is excellent trail information available and usually someone on hand to answer questions.

Shrimp Cook Off Brings Out Best in Outer Banks

Rob Robinson in black and Matt Payne, chef's for Bad Bean in Kitty Hawk, just down the street from the Joe Lamb, Jr. offices.
Rob Robinson in black and Matt Payne, chef’s for Bad Bean in Kitty Hawk, creating their Shrimp Veracruz. Bad Bean is just down the street from the Joe Lamb, Jr. offices.

It was certainly crowded in Ocean Boulevard for the 7th Annual Outer Banks Shrimp Cook Off. With 10 restaurant on hand and some great weather, there  seemed to be a lot of folks sampling some great dishes.

It’s nice, too, that the event is a fundraiser for the Outer Banks Center for Dolphin Research. It’s a local organization that works to keep track of local dolphins—their migratory patterns, populations and general health. This is the nonprofit’s eighth year of working in the field and they’re starting to get some good information about the local dolphin population.

The Cook Off is for a good cause, but the reason for being at Ocean Boulevard was the shrimp. And what we sampled was spectacular.

It’s almost impossible to pick out a favorite, because everything was excellent. Bad Bean had a Shrimp Veracruz Dumpling with Shrimp Broth. The dumpling used masa dough and it gave the dish a very different flavor and texture.

Cafe Lachine created a marvelous puff pastry with shrimp in the middle of it. Light and fluffy, that was also very good.

However, if pushed to make a decision, we’re going to go with the Pan Seared Shrimp over polenta with a smoked tomato sauce.

Ocean Boulevard has hosted the Cook Off for the past seven years. Having ten restaurants on hand is the most that have participated yet and it really stretched the capacity of OB. Good thing we had beautiful weather because Two Road Tavern was outside, which worked with with their grilled shrimp stuffed with crab meat. There were also three restaurants upstairs, which is a bit cramped under the best of circumstances.

It was though, a very nice event. The chefs seemed genuinely happy to be there and with good food and a good cause, the day seemed to be a genuine success.

Clemens Comes to Life in “Whiskey with Twain”

Ryan Clemens as Huckleberry Finn.
Ryan Clemens as Huckleberry Finn.

In a show filled with humor and great acting, Ryan Clemens, the three times grandfather’s brother’s son of Samuel Clemens—Mark Twain, brought the thoughts and stories of the great author to life.

Clemens performed what was a one man show featuring characters drawn from the short works and novels of his famous ancestor.

Clemens and Whiskey with Twain

The evening, titled Whiskey with Twain, did a wonderful job of tracing the authors life through his work, from his earliest recollections of a bucolic life in Hannibal, Mississippi, where he grew up, to Twain the Elder, handing out wisdom with a piercing wit as he sipped whiskey—probably scotch, reported to be his favorite spirit.

As Twain the Elder, Clemens starts off telling the audience, “It’s better to be silent and have everyone think you’re ignorant that to speak and prove them right.”

He describes our nation’s capital as the “…grand asylum for the insane they call Washington.”

As funny and fun as it was to meet Mark Twain as an accomplished man of letters, what may have been the most effective piece of theater was Ryan Clemens’ depiction of Huckleberry Finn wrestling with the moral dilemma of the runaway slave, Jim.

For the vast majority of Americans in 1885 when Huckleberry Finn was published, the idea of an African American who had dreams, aspirations and hopes for the future was incomprehensible. By having Huck Finn, ignorant and uneducated, yet with an extraordinary moral compass, floating down the Mississippi and exploring those very human characteristics of Jim, Twain created one of the great novels of world literature.

Clemens, in a ten minute skit, brings Huck to life and creates a compelling piece of theater.

It was a marvelous evening, typical of the performances that the Don and Catharine Bryan Cultural Series have been bringing to the Outer Banks. The show was performed at the Hilton Garden Inn in Kitty Hawk. Next up, An Evening of Opera & Broadway, November 30.