Christmas–and Santa–Come to the Outer Banks

Santa arrives at Duck to the delight of children of every age.
Santa arrives at Duck to the delight of children of every age.

Christmas has come to the Outer Banks. We know that because the tree lighting was held in Manteo last night and today Santa Claus hopped off a fire truck in Duck to the delight of a lot of kids…and adults too.

In a lot of ways, the Manteo tree lighting and the Duck Christmas celebration are two different ways of ringing in the holiday season. But at their heart, they are very much the same.

Both go to great lengths to celebrate children, family and the true spirit of the season.

And both have lots of hot chocolate and cookies. Manteo does get a nod for the wonderful Brunswick stew the Manteo United Methodist Church hands out every year, but for the kids there’s not a lot of difference.

The Manteo celebration is really all about all things wonderful about small town life. Local dance schools take to the stage. A five member women choir sings a capella Christmas music. The Manteo elementary, middle school and high school choruses take to the state. And of course there is Santa who counts down the lighting of the tree and then hangs around to talk to the kids.

Perhaps the biggest difference between the two celebrations is the Christmas tree, or in Duck’s case, the crab pot pyramid in the shape of a Christmas tree.

It is a recognition of the town’s heritage. Long before the first visitor came to the Duck, there was a cluster of homes arranged along Currituck Sound and everyone lived by fishing, hunting and substance farming.

Certainly a far cry from today.

Even though Duck does do many things differently, what happens on the first Saturday of December every year is actually very traditional. There’s live music from Just Playing Dixieland. The First Flight High School Advanced Choir strolled around the town caroling. 

And, of course, Santa showed up, in this case in a fire truck.

Santa always seems to be a wonderful, jolly elf, but honestly the Duck Santa may be the best ever. He seems to listen carefully to every child and the children respond remarkably well to him.

There is so much to do on the Outer Banks. Stay with us at Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates for a week or two and discover why life on this sandbar is so wonderful.

Fire Destroys the Original Cotton Gin

Fire destroyed the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg.
Fire destroyed the Cotton Gin in Jarvisburg.

The original Cotton Gin on the Currituck Mainland has been so much a part of Outer Banks life that it’s hard to imagine what it will be like without it. After Saturday’s blaze the left only charred remains of the store, we’ll have to face that reality.

We don’t know yet what caused it or why it burned fro eight hours and the Currituck Fire Departments were unable to put the blaze out.

We can hope the Wright family who own the Cotton Gin will be willing to and have the resources to rebuild it.

But we don’t know any of that right now.

All we know right now is that one of the most remarkable and wonderful stores ever is gone. 

Wandering through the Cotton Gin was like walking through an attic that was a combination rambling old mansion and barn. There was a randomness about how it all came together that made exploring the many rooms—none of them very large—the type of activity that could keep anyone, man, woman, child, occupied for hours.

The product selection was, well, different. In a wonderful individualistic way. That the store was successful was obvious. Why it was successful —that’s a bigger question.

In the world of retail that now exists, the Cotton Gin is exhibit A that most of the experts don’t know what they’re talking about.

This is not, or was not in this case, an example of a slickly merchandised store. Just the opposite. Instead there was a beautiful charm that it exhibited was founded on not being perfectly organized.

It absolutely would not work in almost any other store or setting. But for the Cotton Gin it was perfect.

There are three Cotton Gin stores still in existence—Corolla, Nags Head and Duck. They are very nice store; Corolla comes closest to the original. But nothing will ever quite match the original Cotton Gin.

Outer Banks New Year’s Eve Celebrations Promise Fun for All

Manteo promises the largest New Year's Eve fireworks in the state. If the weather holds, it may be.
Manteo promises the largest New Year’s Eve fireworks in the state. If the weather holds, it may be.

We had a fantastic Christmas here on the Outer Banks and with Christmas past, the next holiday to greet us is New Year’s Eve.

It’s kind of nice—the Outer Banks offers our visitors and residents a couple of different ways to celebrate the coming of New Year.

For families, check out what’s happening in downtown Manteo.

Tod Clissold owner of Poor Richard’s and Cory Hemilright, owner of Bluegrass Island, got together and with some help from the town and other organizations have put created an event with something for everyone.

Plenty of great live music, permitting—last year it wasn’t—and street vendors and games. One really nice fouth… Fireworks? Yes, in the past, although last year the wind was too strong.

Lot’s of food from restaurants and local street vendors and what might be one of the nicest touches, an 8:30 p.m. ball drop so kids can get in the fun.

It can get a bit cold on the waterfront. OK, last it was painful cold, but the forecast right now doesn’t seem quite that extreme.

There is, of course, lots of celebrations at local bars and restaurants. We did some looking around and here’s a few of the New Year’s Eve events we found.


Bypass, Kitty Hawk

The Conch Shells


Locals Dee Thornley, Hugh Hammers and Rob Evans perform high energy favorites for your New Year’s Eve celebration! Music Starts at 9:30 and goes right on through when we ring in the New Year!

Village Tavern

Route 12, Duck


Ring in the New Year with the Village Table & Tavern! To celebrate we’ll be offering a special 3-course menu which includes an appetizer, entree, dessert and a glass of bubbly.

Chose from two dinner seatings: one at 5:30 pm and the second at 8:30 pm. Live music from Mama’s Black Sheep starts at 9:30 pm, and the party goes until 1 am! Advance reservations are required for the 3-course dinner which is $50 for the 5:30 seating and $65 for the 8:30. We’ll also be offering an a la carte menu at our communal tables and bar where seating will be on a first come, first serve basis.

Ocean Boulevard

Beach Road, Kitty Hawk


We like to usher in the New Year by creating a special five (5) course menu. This special menu is offered exclusively on New Year’s Eve.  We save live music for another night simply because the main focus is on dining well and space is limited.  We celebrate at midnight by counting down with a complimentary glass of bubbly, watching the ball drop, and making a lot of noise (with the help of noise maker favors that, thankfully, only come out once a year).  

There is always something happening on the Outer Banks. Come stay with Joe Lamb, Jr. & Associates and explore our world by the sea.

Village Table and Tavern Opens in Town of Duck

Village Table and Tavern logo.
Village Table and Tavern logo.

After 6 Months the Doors Are Open

It seems like Village Table and Tavern in Duck has been under construction forever—but at long last it’s open!

For visitors who have been driving up to Corolla, that’s the building that’s been under construction at the Nor’Banks Sailing Center since February.

Was it worth the wait?

A soft opening visit this past weekend would say that yes it was—most emphatically.

The same people who opened Trio Wine, Beer & Cheese in Kitty Hawk seven years ago are behind the Village Table, and it has some of the same features. A very nice wine list and hard to find and interesting beers from around the world seem to be hallmarks of their style.

But that may be where the comparison ends.

Unlike Trio, Village Table is a full service restaurant. The pricing is moderate—most entrees are $10-$20— and there is full bar service and dining room with seating.

The bar is really nice with some rarely seen liquors and their own twist on seasonal cocktails.

What will probably really set the site apart from almost every other restaurant on the Outer Banks, though is the setting—that and the food which promises to be very good with a real flair. As an aside…if the wahoo fish of the day that was served on Friday is any indication, Village Table will do very well.

But the setting—spectacular.

Sitting right on the Currituck Sound and just a little bit elevated, the sunsets promise to be amazing. Coupled with sail boats going and coming when Nor’Banks is open, the location is going to set the bar really high for waterfront dining.

Plans call for the restaurant to be open for lunch and dinner. It’s a bit late in the season to experiment, but it is possible Village Table will open for breakfast next year.

There is always something exciting happening on the Outer Banks and Joe Lamb Jr., & Associates & Associates have properties ready to rent wherever the action is.

Tree Lightings Mark Beginning of OBX Christmas Season

Santa arriving at Duck to the excited cheers of the children.
Santa arriving at Duck to the excited cheers of the children.

The first weekend in December on the Outer Banks is a pretty special time. That is the official opening of the Christmas Season.

Sure Thanksgiving gets all the press, but as far as the Outer Banks is concerned until the Christmas Trees are lit in Manteo and Duck, it’s just not official yet.

Duck-Holiday Spirit with a Twist

Of course, the Duck tree lighting is done with a distinctive twist. The shape is right and the lights are there, but there’s not actual tree. The tree shape is created by crab pots and it does give a nice, distinctive touch to the celebration.

There is a lot about the Duck celebration and a much of it is that the way the town goes about it is just a little but different than anyone else. There is music, but it’s Dixieland from Just Playing Dixieland—a local group and they are very good.

Pets are encouraged—well, dogs. We’re not sure how cats would do in that environment. But it is nice to see.

There is, of course, hot chocolate and cookies, but best of all, when Santa comes to Duck, he is absolutely at his best. Santa, when he comes to the town, may be the best reason to put the Duck tree lighting on the annual to do list.

Manteo-The Spirit of Small Town Christmas

That is not to denigrate Manteo at all.

In fact, the Manteo tree lighting is so perfectly small town America and community that it feels as though there should be a painting of it somewhere.

This year may have been the best attended in some time. We can’t be sure, but Mt. Olivet United Methodist Church ran out of their Brunswick Stew this year—and on a chilly night, it was missed.

Still the evening is fantastic.

Centered around the old Dare County Courthouse that is now home to the Dare County Arts Council, the evening features dancing from local churches and a dance school. Youth choirs fill the air with music, there’s a Yuletide log burning and yes, Santa does make an appearance.

It is a wonderful, wonderful experience and one certain to put the holiday spirit into anyone’s step.

Beach Nourishment Begins in Duck

Beach nourishment construction zone in Duck.
Beach nourishment construction zone in Duck.

The first 200’ of the Dare County Intra-Local Beach Nourishment project has been competed in Duck.

Crews been working last week and made good progress in spite of some thunderstorms that rolled through the area. The schedule is pretty aggressive so crews are working seven days a week.

A Construction Zone

Beach nourishment calls for an active construction zone, and Great Lades Dredge Company, who has the contract to place the sand on the beach, has a lot of experience in the field. As a consequence the area they are working in is clearly marked as a construction zone.

Plans call for minimizing the impact of the project for Outer Banks visitors. Construction zones, as an example, are limited to 500’, creating plenty of sandy space on both sides.

Planned Schedule

The first phase in Duck should take 45 days. Equipment will then be moved to Kitty Hawk and Southern Shores. Southern Shores is a bit late to the nourishment party, the decision to nourish about a half mile of shoreline came after Hurricane Matthew devastated the beach in front of Pelican Watch.

Southern Shores did not officially vote to participate until March of this year.

The Kitty Hawk portion of the project is the most involved and according to the design team from Coastal Planning and Engineering of North Carolina the work will take 74 days, beginning in early July and ending in September.

Included in that work is a one week window in June to complete the Southern Shores portion.

Work in Kill Devil Hills will being in August and plans call for it to take about 40 days.

The appearance of the Duck beach is typical of a newly nourished area. Much wider than it was before nourishment, by design a portion of that sand will be returning to the sea to create a protective sandbar.

Beach nourishment does take a long-term commitment. Typically a beach has to be renourished in five to seven years. The Nags Head beach, which was nourished in 2011, is due to for a touch next year, seven years after the first phase of their project ended.

Replenishing, however, is not as expensive as the first go around nor does it take as long.

Meetings Highlight Outer Banks Beach Nourishment

Julien Devisse of Coastal Planning and Engineering speaking at Kill Devil Hills.
Julien Devisse of Coastal Planning and Engineering discussing beach nourishment at Kill Devil Hills.

With beach nourishment scheduled to begin in May in the towns of Duck, Kitty Hawk and Kill Devil Hills–and maybe Southern Shores, the contractor for the project, Coastal Engineering held a series of informational meetings Wednesday and Thursday.

Traveling with Coastal Engineering was a representative from Great Lakes Dredge and Dock, the company that will be pumping the sand on the beach.

The presentation in each town was geared toward the work that was being done there, but much of the presentation was consistent.


The work, as an example, will be done in 1000’ sections, and as construction is underway, the public, for safety reasons, will not be permitted in the work zone.

Julien Devisse from Coastal Engineering had the task of explaining how nourishment works.

Using graphs he showed how, over time, sand from a nourished beach typically moves off shore to form a protective sand bar that helps to dissipate the fore of incoming waves.

He also discussed the timetable.

Work is scheduled to begin in Duck in mid May with a planned completion date in late June or early July.

Kitty Hawk will begin in mid June and should wrap up by mid August.

Plans call for Kill Devil Hills nourishment to begin in early August and be completed by mid September.

Devisse did caution, though, that there were a number of factors that could influence the schedule—weather is certainly one of the factors. He also noted, however, that the dredges were pumping sand almost continuously and that given the abrasive nature of sand, equipment failures could occur.


According to the representative from Great Lakes Dredge and Dock the borrow areas, which is where the sand is located that will be brought to the beach, is about six miles off shore and is considered easily accessible with good quality sand.

Although there are conditions under which it will not  be able to operate, the dredge can continue its work in seas up to 8’.

Federal regulations require monitoring for sea turtles. N.E.S.T. will be monitoring construction zones to insure no nesting sea turtles are disturbed.