How will you remember the summer of ‘15?
For the Ocracoke community, it was, overall, a pretty good season. Not that there weren’t problems.
Anthony Costello, 67, of Wareham, Mass., while swimming at the lifeguard beach on the morning of July 1, was bitten repeatedly by a shark and gravely wounded.
Thanks to the efforts of many, starting with the lifeguards and ending at the trauma One Center in Greenville, Costello survived and was released July 22.
The national news the incident attracted didn’t help the tourist season.
The popular surf camp, sponsored by Ride the Wind Surf Shop pretty much went belly-up and visitors turned to other activities including kayaking. Island lodgings with pools became even more popular.
The good news is that as of Aug. 31, there were no drownings on Ocracoke.
These are often owing to rip currents, and, believe it or not, the most dangerous thing at the beach is a rip current, not sharks.
Most felt business was up from last year.
Daphne Bennink, owner of the Back Porch restaurant, is overall pleased with the summer season.
An informal poll of other businesses shows that business, for the most part, was up slightly from last year, although not as good as several years ago when the short ferry route was still operating.
Art gallery openings, organized festivals, impromptu music and other events continued.
The Fig Festival Aug. 14 attracted many and had 28 entrants in the fig cake bake-off competition (the most ever total cakes).
The music scene continued to be strong with the restaurants having great music, often beginning in late afternoon. The music is provided by a combination of local and off-island performers.
The public library under Mary Bryant’s leadership sponsored the important summer reading program with the assistance of the Ocracoke Friends of the Library. She has several programs running including the book club and she has plans for even more in the fall. The library is a great place to visit for both islanders and visitors.
School has started, and enrollment from pre-K to senior year at Ocracoke School is at 182 students, up from 167 last year.
Emergency services were busy, as is expected when the island’s population increases so dramatically.
There were many ambulance trips to the Outer Banks Hospital. For the more serious cases, with the assistance of the Ocracoke Volunteer Fire Department, EMS airlifted several people to regional emergency centers.
Our lifeline—the ferry system—did its best to move cars and visitors to the islands via the long route between Hatteras and Ocracoke.
This is an area islanders must continue to monitor and help find solutions to as many visitors complained about the long, hot wait in the Hatteras ferry lines and many still advocate for the return of the short route.
Please convey your opinions and concerns to our state representatives Sen. Bill Cook and Rep. Paul Tine. Both represent District 1, which includes Ocracoke.
More contact information for both representatives is available at www.ncleg.net.