This week’s Blog from the Treasure Realty Treasure Coast is from guest blogger Scott Wheeler of SFI Insurance Group about the value of giving back, doing good, and their upcoming annual Community Tent Event that provides fun while raising funds for worthy local causes.
“A Community Tent Event on the Topsail Island Treasure Coast”
Michelle and I have always been involved in numerous organizations and activities to help our local folks around Topsail Island. We do the same with our company and the team that works with us because we believe in the idea of leaving a place better than you found it.
To help do our part as a business, for the past few years (except 2018 when Hurricane Florence came through) we have hosted a community tent party fundraiser at our Surf City location raising over $25,000 for Cancer related charities from this single annual event. In 2017, we raised over $10,000 and donated the proceeds to the Cape Fear Chapter of Pink Heals.
This event is near and dear to our hearts. This year’s event is our tenth one taking place on October 11th and it’s open to the community. It will be a scholarship fundraiser for children of families affected by cancer in the local area. This is a new venture and our first scholarship will be awarded for the August 2020 semester.
Michelle and I have always tried to live up to that
philosophy of leaving a place better than
we found it. For instance, during a vacation to Belize, we ran
into a school that needed some repairs. So we teamed up with the owner of
the hotel we were staying in and together we worked to making the completion of
a new school building a reality. The next year when we returned, we saw a
completed school building with 5 new classrooms and stocked them with school
supplies for that year.
It is amazing what can happen when you care, get involved, and share your time, talent, or treasure.
Whether you live here, vacation, or travel through the Greater Topsail Island area, you encounter coastal treasures.
Treasure Realty helps you find your treasure home or vacation rental. We also enjoy sharing our area’s coastal treasures.
Find Your Treasure with Treasure Realty Sales and Rentals
Trusted Local Experts Serving Topsail and Mainland Since 1990
For the past week the world watched Hurricane Dorian do a devastating dance with the Bahamas before flirting ferociously with Florida, then brushing uncomfortably up against our Topsail Island and attempting to take some of our northern Carolina coastal treasures. Fortunately, Dorian is gone and most of our treasures are still here.
Treasure Realty is the trusted local expert at helping people find their treasure whether that be a vacation rental or buying or selling a home on Topsail Island, along one of our beaches, or in one of the many beautiful communities that surround the island and mainland areas for almost three decades now.
Next year is the company’s 30th. Over the years it has experienced numerous weather events, many of them on historic levels like Hurricane Florence that hit our beaches just last year. Dorian arrived just one week shy of the one year mark. Though Flo tried to take away some of our treasures, Dorian didn’t. In fact, Topsail Island, the beaches, and businesses were able to reopen, and vacationers welcomed only one day after this storm moved up the coast and out to sea.
We got lucky. Many of our neighbors to the south and north were not. Our hearts, thoughts, and prayers go out to the Bahamas. We feel the pain of those who were adversely affected by Hurricane Dorian.
We are grateful that our Topsail Treasures are still here, and we are ready to keep helping our customers find and experience theirs.
By Scott Franko, Marketing Director at Treasure Realty, Inc.
Whether you live here, vacation, or travel through the Greater Topsail Island area, you encounter coastal treasures. Treasure Realty helps you find your treasure home or vacation rental. We also enjoy sharing our coastal treasures.
This week’s Blog from the Treasure Coast comes from guest blogger Mitch Sprunger, Deputy Director of the Albert J. Ellis Airport in Jacksonville of Onslow County, North Carolina.
“Greeting Our Guests with Hospitality and a Wag”
I make it a point during the craziness of a typical work day
at Albert J. Ellis Airport to get out of the office and look at the terminal
building and say hello to some tenants and customers. After grabbing a snack
upstairs, I went down the escalator and was greeted by the wagging tail of a
This was Cody, the USO’s retired service lab who meets
guests with affection and a sniff. I then said hello to his owner Mr. Smith, a
proud veteran and volunteer who spreads cheer among the travelers and military
members. The two Marines in front of me, one from Ohio and the other from
California, laughed and enjoyed some R&R before their journey out west.
I’ve worked at several airports in my young career, but
working here is the most collaborative atmosphere, where the users and tenants
embrace and appreciate the travelling military members. If you haven’t already,
I’d encourage you to come experience the hospitality of flying local at OAJ.
You’ll save money, time and experience all the conveniences of the larger
facilities without the hassle.
On top of that, you may get greeted by a lab in the
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Trusted Local Experts Serving Topsail and Mainland Since
By Guest Blogger Laura Oxley, Town Clerk, Town of North Topsail Beach
we are home to a special piece of history. Founded in 1949, 15 years prior to
the Civil Rights Act, the Ocean City community was the only place African Americans
could purchase coastal property in North
To honor this unique community on its 60th
anniversary, a jazz saxophonist and his accompanist provided entertainment on
the porch of the Ocean
City community center.
This simple concert set into motion a beloved summer tradition.
This past July, the festival celebrated its 10th
anniversary. With nearly a dozen performances and approximately 2,500 people in
attendance, it is safe to say the festival has quite a following.
North Topsail Beach is pleased that so many people are dedicated to preserving this piece of history. If you missed the Ocean City Jazz Festival this year, put it on your calendar for next year’s July 4th weekend of 2020. You don’t want to miss this jazz party with a higher purpose. There’s nothing else like it!
Historic Ocean City Beach, is located on Topsail
Island in the North
community of Onslow
County in what is known
as the sunshine belt. It is the perfect place for a family vacation or to enjoy
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Travis Stafford, along with Jim and his wife, Eva Dobrowski are more than just friends. They are neighbors, business partners and owners of the brand new Coastal Wing and Spirits Company in Surf City.
It had always been Travis’ dream to own and operate a successful restaurant business. Seven years ago, the Boone, N.C. resident moved to the Topsail Island area with a hospitality management degree from East Carolina University and a desire to put his education to the test. A few years later, Jim and Eva Dobrowski, New Jersey (via Chicago) transplants moved into the neighborhood. A friendship was born and before long a business partnership was forged. The rest is history!
The dream started becoming a reality when the partners opened Hopsail Island Taproom and Beer Market, a full service bottle shop in Surf City, offering twenty- four rotating taps with beer and wine. Now in its third year, Hopsail Taproom is a favorite spot for locals and vacationers to unwind while listening to good, local musicians. It’s also a great place to fill up the cooler with favorite beverages before heading to the beach.
Although Hopsail was a success, the partners decided to open a restaurant in Surf City too, just because the area needed another good place to eat. In mid April of this year, Coastal Wing and Spirits Co. opened to great reviews.
As its name suggests, Coastal Wing and Spirits Co. is all about the wings and spirits. With multiple sauce options for the wings, twelve beers on tap, cold bottles and canned beers, distinctive craft cocktails and handcrafted sodas to choose from, it’s easy to see how this restaurant is a family pleaser. Yet, if you are thinking Coastal Wing and Spirit Co. is just another wing joint, well, you’d be mistaken!
Jesse Lowman, Coastal Wing and Spirits Company’s chef is a culinary graduate from Paul Smith’s College in New York and is dedicated to making fresh, locally sourced dishes with a Southern flair. The menu features fresh, smoked meats and gourmet dishes, along with some of your favorite fried finger foods. The sauces and dressings are made fresh daily as well as the pimento cheese, which Chef Jesse uses in some dishes as a dip or garnish! (Beware, it’s addictive!) The salad choices are beautiful, tasty and huge!
From the appetizers (Starters) to the House Specialties, Chef Jesse magically produces dishes that taste like Southern comfort on a plate! Bring your appetite! All of Coastal Wing and Spirits Company food portions are generous and hearty!
Another draw to Surf City’s newest restaurant is that it’s also a sports bar!
If you are out to watch your team in action, there are nine big screen TVs featuring premium football and sports packages. The casual atmosphere encourages you to root for your favorite team while having a great meal and enjoying your favorite beverage.
After meeting Travis, Jim and Eva, you may get the feeling that the vision for this restaurant came together for these friends and neighbors around backyard barbeques and family suppers. A little bit of dreaming + a flair for fine cooking + a couple great beers = one fantastic restaurant!
Coastal Wing and Spirits Co. offers great “to go” options, including delivery! Come in or place your order online. They even cater for all of your event or party needs.
It’s that time of year again folks! Sure, it’s hot as the blazes outside but that doesn’t deter our determination to celebrate our nation, the good, ol’ USA! Everywhere, Old Glory is waving proudly and American is gearing up her annual Celebration. On Topsail Island the big question is “Where’s the party and the fireworks?”
If you live or are vacationing in the Topsail Island area this year, you are in luck! We have several celebrations from which to choose. So grab the family and head out to one of our great local parks and make this a Fourth to remember. Stay safe and have fun!
Surf City Independence Day Celebration
SURF CITY, JULY 3 The town of Surf City’s Independence Day Celebration will be held on Wednesday, July 3 at Soundside Park. A concert featuring Johnny White & The Elite Band will kick festivities off at 5:30 p.m. and a fireworks display will begin at 9 p.m. Bring your chair or blanket, no coolers or alcoholic beverages will be allowed. For more information call 910-328-4131. Facebook Page
July 4-7 beginning at 5pm. Celebrating its tenth year, the Ocean City Jazz Festival is held in historic Ocean City in North Topsail Beach. Gates open at 4pm. Advance ticket prices are $50-$60 for one day or $160 for all three days. Tickets at the gate increase by $5. Event details here.
Surf City Pier Kids Fishing Tournament on July 4th
The Surf City Pier opens for a free day of fishing for youngsters age 16 and under in a fun, educational and safe environment. You must pre-register for this event. Call 910-328-3521 for more details.
36th ANNUAL ONSLOW COUNTY FREEDOM FESTIVAL, JACKSONVILLE, NC
Tips for a Great Fourth at the Freedom Festival
Coolers welcome, no glass containers
Grill is allowed in the tree area between the festival area and the little league ballfield/concession area
A misting tent is located beside the information stand (bathrooms)
First aid station located at the entrance to the festival area (at Onslow Pines Rd entrance)
Lost children and lost and found located at the information booth
Restrooms-located at the information booth, concession stand by the ballfields, and portable toilets throughout the festival area
Our parks are pet-friendly, but for this event, dogs are not allowed
Alcohol is not permitted
WILMINGTON, NC FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATIONS
CITY OF WILMINGTON FOURTH OF JULY CELEBRATION
Downtown Wilmington Waterfront Park
Thursday, July 4; 6 to 10 p.m.
Watch a spectacular fireworks show over the Cape Fear River at the City of Wilmington’s Fourth of July Celebration. Come early for several dining options and stay after the fireworks for vibrant nightlife and all that historic downtown Wilmington has to offer.
RED, WHITE & BLUEGRASS: A 4TH OF JULY FIREWORKS CELEBRATION
Pier 33 Entertainment Venue
Thursday, July 4; 6:30 to 10 p.m.Celebrate Independence Day on the Riverfront with live music from newgrass band, Massive Grass, on the Pier 33 stage. Marina Grill will provide barbeque, sides, drinks and more for purchase. Watch the stunning fireworks show over the river in one of the best locations to do so.
What is your perfect Rx for rest and relaxation? Is it vacationing on Topsail Island and strolling along its sun-drenched shore? Maybe it’s finding the perfect spot on the sand to plop down a beach chair and enjoy a good book. Unwind. Clear the cobwebs out of the mind. Some enjoy toasting the sunset with friends and family and sharing a wonderful seafood dinner at a fine restaurant.
Others of you though, may be a bit more adventurous and find that hiking a part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail – that just so happens to include Topsail Island and surrounding areas, is just the prescription the doctor ordered to put you “smack dab in the middle” of your happy place!
If you’ve never heard of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail, this information may inspire you to get a good pair of hiking boots, buy yourself a backpack and hit the trail! The good news for beach lovers though, is that part of the trail comes to our back door!
The Mountains-to Sea-Trail (MST) was envisioned years ago by hikers in North Carolina who wanted a trail that extended from the mountains to the sea. Today, much of the dream has become a reality. Beginning in the Great Smoky Mountains at Clingman’s Dome, the MST is a trail made up of simple footpaths and asphalt backroads.
The trail leads up through the North Carolina mountains and down into the foothills and Piedmont regions of central North Carolina. It then enters the coastal plains section, eventually taking the hiker through Pender County and the Holly Shelter Game Land.
This part of the MST is nearby Topsail Island and follows 19 miles of forest roads through longleaf pine savannas and pocosins. Research shows that Holly Shelter Game Land is one of the most ecologically diverse areas in the United States. It’s common to see many types of wildlife and all sorts of plant life, including rare carnivorous plants like the Venus Flytrap.
Going east, the trail takes you into Surf City, where this section of the MST is very family friendly. If you have the time, it would be a great idea to visit the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center. It’s only about a half a mile off the trail. As its name suggests, this is a sea turtle hospital. The sick and injured sea turtles are treated and restored to good health. After healing from their wounds and diseases, they’re released back into their natural sea environment. Adults and children alike love sea turtles and this excursion off the MST is fun and educational. Find more information about the Karen Beasley Sea Turtle Rescue and Rehabilitation Center @https://www.facebook.com/seaturtlehospital/.
By following the MST markers, you will continue east across the Intracoastal Waterway by way of the new Surf City Bridge. Opened in December of 2019, the bridge spans the Intracoastal Waterway connecting the mainland with Topsail Island. Rising sixty-five feet above the water, the bridge allows boats and ships to pass through the waterway without interfering with the traffic on and off the island. The Surf City bridge is 3,800 feet long (your fitbit will love you ) and has a ten foot multi-use path, accommodating pedestrians and a seven and a half foot bicycle lane. The multi-use path is protected by a concrete barrier separating it from passing vehicles. It’s perfectly safe!
Walking the bridge is the best way to experience the beauty of Topsail Island. The views of the island, sound, marshes, and the ocean are spectacular. Bring your camera. You’re going to want to take pictures. Plus, it gives you bragging rights and proof that you actually made it to the summit of the bridge. If you’d just like to walk the bridge, park your car at Soundside Park in Surf City and begin your journey. The boardwalk will put you in the direction of the bridge.
After crossing the Surf City Bridge, the Mountains-to-Sea Trail meets the ocean and Topsail Island. Another interesting excursion a few miles south of the trail is a visit to the Missiles and More Museum in Topsail Beach. This museum is housed in the old Assembly Building that was built in 1946 and used by the government as the Navy’s secret guided missile testing program (Operation Bumblebee) conducted on Topsail Island. It’s been said that the missile program was the forerunner of the Kennedy Space Center/Cape Canaveral.
The museum also has information about other military happenings on the island such as the women who trained on Topsail Island as Airforce Service Pilots (WASP). Find out about the odd airplanes (or are they helicopters) that fly over Topsail Island. Hint: Osprey are not only seabirds! Learn why there are funny looking white, square towers dotting the island. Missiles and More Museum also entertains your imagination about the history of pirates on Topsail Island. Yes, Blackbeard the pirate was definitely “a player” in our history and there is still the potential of buried treasure waiting to be discovered. There is more information on the Missiles and More Museum @http://missilesandmoremuseum.org
The MST follows Topsail Island’s coastline for eight miles and then heads northward towards Sneads Ferry and Jacksonville. In Sneads Ferry, be sure and check out the “Discover Onslow” exhibit at the Sneads Ferry Public Library. This part of the library is like a natural history museum. In the middle of the room is a wonderful display of natural flora and fauna. By walking from wall to wall, one can see more information on the digital “Naturalist’s Notebook.” Outside, there is a wetlands boardwalk, complete with benches for those who just want to sit and enjoy the outdoors. For more information on the Discover Onslow exhibit, find it @https://www.onslowcountync.gov/858/Discover-Onslow
As you continue on a northeast route, the Mountains-to-Sea leads to Jockey’s Ridge, the highest sand dune on the Outer Banks. The entire MST spans almost 1,200 miles across our beautiful state, allowing those who travel along its pathway to see a diversity of beauty that will fill you with awestruck wonder!
For all of you locals and vacationers that seek adventure, try hiking the part of the Mountains-to-Sea Trail that is right at our backdoor. You might enjoy it so much you’ll discover you have a new hobby!
“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” Jacques Cousteau”
I stopped by The Mermaid’s Purse in Surf City a few days ago. The charm of the shop lured me in through the colorful doors and with the snap of a finger and blink of an eye, I was in Topsail Island paradise!
Sea treasures were dripping from the ceiling, hanging on the walls and displayed in every nook and cranny. Best of all, a masterful, mermaid mural was painted on the floor underneath my feet! My heart skipped a beat and I knew my inner mermaid felt at home. With over seventy local artisans renting space inside the shop, the place was chock full of everything that represented Topsail Island. There was even a coffee shop inside (of course, run by an artisan) that was rumored to have some of the best coffee on the island. Could any place be more perfect?
Instantly, I knew this was a “happy place:” a shopper’s haven for those captivated by the magic of Topsail Island. The Mermaid’s Purse was the little piece of heaven where objects d’art were made by those who loved the island too. It was their gift for folks who had to leave it and go home: a little bit of Topsail to soothe the soul until you returned for your next visit.
A friendly lady, Carol Ann Ross was there to welcome me into the treasure trove. Carol explained that The Mermaid’s Purse had been in business for nine years and that Patty Blacknight was the owner. It began as a very small shop with only a few vendors but it had grown every year. It was the only shop of its kind on the island. “When you’re an artist and somebody tells you that what you do is good, it’s nice. But when they buy what you do, it makes you feel worthy.” Not only did this venue give artists credibility but it elevated the entire cultural scene of Topsail.
Carol Ann took me throughout the store, pointing out all the different types of artwork and one-of-a-kind pieces, telling me about the artisans. I had no idea Topsail Island had so much talent. “Take it all in, little mermaid,” I said to my soul. “There’s enough beauty, whimsy and artistic expression in this shop to last you for months!”
The last room we entered was The Mermaid’s Book Corner. Carol told me that it was her space and it contained books she and other local authors had written. Since it was April, the store wasn’t very busy and Carol had time to sit and chat a bit.
“So, you’re a writer,” I asked. “Yes! I’ve written fifteen books, mostly novels, centered around Topsail Island.” Carol Ann told me that her family had moved to Surf City in 1955 and that she grew up on Topsail Island. “We lived in one of the old barracks that was built here for the military during War War II.” She remembers playing on the sand dunes that were all over the island at that time. “Climbing water oaks, playing in the marshes and jumping out of bumble bee towers made Topsail Island a kids Neverland in those days. Back then, we could jump out of the towers and land on the sand dunes below. They were like soft pillows. You can’t do that anymore,” she said sadly. “The only sand dunes left now are the ones that separate the beach from the waterfront houses.”
Looking out the window of The Mermaid’s Purse, Carol Ann pointed to a tall, brick chimney that stood alone across the street. “That’s what was left of an old warehouse during World War II. When I was a little kid, it was full of army vehicles. I used to play on those vehicles but when I was about ten years old, they took them out and put a basketball court there. That was where we would hang out and have fun.”
Carol Ann left her beloved Topsail Island in the mid 1980’s, did some traveling and went to college, ready to see what life offered beyond her beautiful island. Twenty years and a few marriages later, she came back to the place of her childhood. However when she arrived, she became aware that things had changed some in her Neverland. “I saw that my island was becoming more of a tourist town.”
She pointed to a display of her books. “This is why I write books. They can capture what the island and the people who lived on it used to be like before things changed, when life was different.”
Carol Ann Ross has been writing books for twenty years. Displayed in the Mermaid’s Book Corner, along with other local authors are her Topsail Beach Stories and Topsail Beach Mystery Series. Carol Ann also has a trilogy, a Topsail Beach Historical Saga, based on the island’s history. “My history is spot on and is woven within a three generation fictional saga. Everything I do is Topsail. Some of them might have a venture to New Bern, Beaufort or Wilmington. Everything is coastal.”
I notice a few books in another display and asked about them. “Every once in a while, I have to take a break from killing people, like in my mystery books. I’ve written some children’s coloring books, too. They have a little story in them and the kids might learn a little about sea turtles. Coming out this spring and summer are a few more kids coloring books. Of course they will be about sea creatures, mixed with a little information for the children to learn.”
Being an avid reader, I know I can’t leave The Mermaid’s Purse without one of Carol Ann’s books, so I chose “The Days of Hairawn Muhly,” the first in the historical saga. I love a good story and I want the island’s history to come alive for me. If you need to take a bit of Topsail Island home with you or just need a good beach read, stop by and consider one of the many books offered in The Mermaid’s Book Corner.
I say goodbye to my new friend, Carol Ann Ross. I know I can see her sometimes at the shop or just visit with her as I read her books and see the island through her eyes. All of the things in the shop are made or written out of pure love and affection for Topsail Island. If you have an inner mermaid, do her a favor and stop in at The Mermaid’s Purse. She’ll be so glad you did!
Residential homes and beach houses aren’t the only buildings that are getting facelifts since Hurricane Florence decided to deliver a powerful blow to Topsail Island and the nearby coastal mainland. Many businesses in the area also suffered considerable damage and have been repaired or in some cases, totally reconstructed. The Riverview Cafe is an example of a restaurant that got a complete makeover.
Julianna Terwilliger, daughter of the Riverview Cafe’s owner, Johnny Terwilliger, said, “We had to redo everything! From the roof, to the walls, to the floors, all the kitchen equipment, tables and chairs; everything had to be changed and switched out. Even the outside structure of the building had a facelift!”
A major part of Julianna’s life has been centered around the Riverview Cafe. The iconic restaurant was started in 1946 by her great grandfather, Jimmy Lewis and has been since been owned and operated by their family. Her father Johnny is now the owner of the popular restaurant and her brother Andrew, serves as manager. It’s a true family affair!
Julianna says she feels as if there was never a moment when the Riverview Cafe wasn’t a major part of her life. “Momma probably brought me by the restaurant right after I was born! I remember spending a lot of time here with my parents. By the time I was ten years old, I was hosting and seating patrons. Since then, I’ve waited tables and worked in the kitchen, doing whatever needed to be done. Now that I’m twenty-one, I can honestly say, ‘I’ve done it all!’”
When Hurricane Florence began making its way up the Atlantic Seaboard, many of the citizens of Sneads Ferry, like Julianna and her family, sought shelter inland. “When we came back to the area we didn’t know what to expect. We didn’t know if our homes would be destroyed or terribly damaged. We didn’t know if we’d even have a job to come back to! Everything was up in the air!”
The Riverview Cafe had suffered a considerable amount of damage. Between the torrential rains and powerful winds, the roof was a mess and water damage to the building and equipment was almost insurmountable. At first, the Terwilligers wondered if the losses were too great to repair and restore Sneads Ferry’s beloved restaurant to the quaint, waterside establishment it had once been.
Of course, the fortitude and hardiness of North Carolina’s coastal dwellers are legendary and the Terwilliger family and the longtime Riverview Cafe employees were no exception. The restaurant was declared, “Closed for Renovations.” A great remodeling and restoration project to bring back ‘the Riverview” was soon underway. The residents of Sneads Ferry waited patiently as their favorite restaurant came back to life.
Finally, after seventeen and a half weeks of hard work and determination, The Riverview Cafe reopened to the public with rave reviews. Everyone was relieved to find that the food was still wonderful and delicious, served up by the same friendly staff. Also, folks couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful the facility was. “It’s like a brand new restaurant!”
For all of its wonderful remodeling and renovations, the Riverview Cafe is still the wonderful restaurant that has been pleasing the taste buds of Sneads Ferry residents and its visitors for years. The big, white grease board that announces the daily specials still hangs prominently on the back wall. All of the same, great dishes that have tempted people for years are still squibbled in a black marker across the board. Once everybody sees that, they are assured they are still at their favorite “old” restaurant!
A man steps up to pay for his meal and comments to Julliana Terwilliger, who is working the register at the time. “I’m from Greensboro, North Carolina and I’ve been coming here to vacation for twenty-one years. I can’t believe that my friend, who’s a resident here, didn’t tell me about this restaurant sooner. Today’s the first time I’ve eaten here and it was absolutely fantastic! I give the service a ‘10’ and the food a ‘15!’ Off the chart! It was amazing! I’ll be back! You can rest assured, I will be back!”
Juliana just smiles and nods. “Thank you, sir! We appreciate that! Come back and see us.” She gets that a lot these days.
If you haven’t made a visit to Topsail Island lately, you may be in for a few surprises on your next long awaited trip.
To begin, this area is growing! New homes and neighborhoods seem to be popping up like dandelions in early spring. The coastal communities on Topsail Island, including the mainland cities of Surf City, Holly Ridge and Sneads Ferry, are scheduled to see continual, rapid growth throughout the next few years.
What’s causing all the growth? A lot of it is driven by the military and the area’s accessibility to Camp Lejeune. Another growth factor is that more and more people are discovering the beauty and charm of our fair coastal communities along the Atlantic and want to own a piece of Topsail Island paradise for themselves.
Of course, growth demands more than housing. With it comes the need and opportunity for extra restaurants and grocery stores, charming shops and businesses, doctors, lawyers, schools, churches, and last but not least, better roads for easy access and travel.
The Topsail Island area has seen some major and welcome changes over the last year. If you come into Surf City on the mainland, the first new sight to notice is a shopping area called “The Arboretum.” It is anchored by a beautiful, rather upscale, Publix grocery store. A perfect addition to the Surf City and Holly Ridge areas, The Arboretum is flanked on one side by a lovely chain of shops that, in time, will fill with businesses and meet the demands of a growing population.
Looking across the street from Publix is a new Handy Mart. It’s a modern, convenient store and gas station, with twelve gas pumps, good coffee, snacks and the cleanest bathrooms in town! Who doesn’t like a new, (as we call them in the South) “fillin’ station?”
Over the last two years, the Topsail Island area has seen the addition of more restaurants, coffee shops and taprooms springing up to serve a growing community of hungry and thirsty residents and vacationers. New businesses have been added that provide merchandise for shoppers looking for coastal decor and clothing or the things one might need for water sports and entertainment. These choices keep everyone from having to leave Topsail to shop in nearby larger cities.
The locals and visitors in the Topsail area have been excited by all of this buildup and new development. However, the real darling of growth has been the new high rise bridge that takes you over the Intracoastal Waterway on to Topsail Island in Surf City. For years, it was rumored that a new high rise was going to be built that would make the iconic, sixty plus year-old swing bridge obsolete.
The swing bridge was outdated and often in need of expensive repairs. Each time tall vessels passed through the waterway, traffic really backed up. The way the bridge held up car and boat traffic made “island time” an almost painful reality! The future required a replacement. A new bridge would better serve the needs of the community. There was a high rise bridge on the north end of the island that led to the mainland community of Sneads Ferry. Why couldn’t one be built in Surf City?
It was! In September of 2016, workers began to build the 54 million dollar bridge. Slated to open in September of 2019, the bridge was finished almost a year early and opened in December of 2018. Surf City got a Christmas present!
The new 3600 foot Surf City high rise bridge is a beautiful structure that allows for breathtaking, panoramic views of the Atlantic and intracoastal waterway, always reminding us why we love Topsail Island and the beauty if offers. The sweeping curve that gently rises sixty-five feet above the water keeps the incline from rising too sharply and allows the passage of tall boats and vessels. Also, there is a wide bicycle and pedestrian lane that is wide enough to serve standard vehicles in the event of island-wide evacuations. This multi-use path is a one of its kind in North Carolina. Now, residents and visitors can bicycle and walk across the intracoastal waterway safely and take in the beauty of the island and its coastline.
On both sides of the high rise there are roundabouts controlling traffic. A few shops that were once in the way of the roundabouts have relocated on the island and there may be slightly different ways to get to your favorite restaurant, but the changes offer many benefits to our growing communities on Topsail Island.
If anyone out there is worried that too many folks are finding out about our “secret” island paradise, have no fears! Topsail Island communities will always have the charm and friendliness of old fashioned, seaside towns. Our golden beaches still stretch for miles and our beautiful ocean and its wildlife will continue to “wow” us. Topsail Island may be growing with a few changes, but the magical things that drew you here in the first place are still the same!