The Farris O’Neal family joined in the Holiday Boat Parade Nov. 26 in their decked out Cap’n B. Photo: C. Leinbach

By Connie Leinbach

A postponement of the Holiday Boat Parade from Friday to Saturday didn’t stop the four boats who said they’d participate from circling Silver Lake at sundown on Ocracoke Island.

This number was up from last year when Chris Farr and his family of Columbia, South Carolina, was the only boat for what is becoming a Thanksgiving weekend tradition.

This year and last, the parades were postponed from the night before.

So, Sundae Horn, who organized the event, was happy that the four boats that said they’d participate were able to do so.

The Farrs were joined by the Windfall II, helmed by Rob Temple, the Cap’n B charter boat, piloted by Farris O’Neal, and Seth Huppert in his skiff.

“Merry Christmas!” Huppert would yell to the spectators on the Community Square dock as he passed by. His boat also played some holiday tunes.

This was the third time that Chris and Brynley Farr and their three boys, ages 3, 6 and 8, spent Thanksgiving on Ocracoke and participated in the parade.

Seth Huppert’s boat is at right and the Windfall II is at left. Photo by Sally Green

“We decided seven years ago that we wanted to do something for Thanksgiving that was just our family,” Chris said as he tied up his boat.

So, they bought a catboat, a small sailboat, and went to Charleston, South Carolina, for three years, and then went to Minnesott Beach.

“We kept getting further and further away from home,” he said. They discovered Ocracoke after reading a sailing blog, “The Log of Spartina,” by Steve Early.

So, they began coming to Ocracoke for Thanksgiving week.

While they rent a house on Howard Street, the boys and Chris like to sleep on the boat some nights.

Horn said Farr reprised his one-boat parade Friday night and encouraged spectators to return Saturday night.

“I love keeping the boat parade tradition going,” she said.

The event is not sponsored by a group. She and the late Teresa O’Neal worked together several years ago to revive it.

The Farr family boat. Photo: C. Leinbach

“I’ll keep doing it in her memory,” Horn said. “She was so good at community spirit.”

O’Neal, 60, died in June after a long battle with cancer.

Horn would love to see more boats join in the merriment. In 2020, during the COVID-19 pandemic,12 boats participated.

“If anyone has any suggestions for how to encourage more boat captains to join in, please let me know,” she said. “Everyone who does it says they enjoy it. I know the spectators are excited to see the boats and many others watch on Facebook. Thanks to all who participated this year.”

Next year, she hopes to revive having hot chocolate and treats at the dock.

Earlier in the day for Small Business Saturday, 17 local artisans and businesses showcased their wares inside the Berkley Barn for the Holiday Gift Market, sponsored by the Ocracoke Civic & Business Association.

The OCBA’s holiday lights competition, Island Celebration, will be Dec. 17. Those who want their houses to be judged should have their lights set by dark.

Despite a bit of rain in the morning, Native Seafood held its oyster tasting Friday afternoon (Nov. 25). Raw oysters were available from Ocracoke, Hatteras and Swan Quarter, said Stevie Wilson as he shucked his locally raised O’cock oysters, and steamed oysters came from Cedar Island.

Owner Susie Scott O’Neal was pleased with the turnout and hopes to do it again next year.

Port and starboard mast lights on the dredge ‘Lexington’ looks like Christmas decor. Photo by Brenda Kremser
The Holiday Gift Market in the Berkley Barn Nov. 26. Photo: C. Leinbach
Oyster tasting Nov. 25 at Native Seafood. Photo: C. Leinbach