Carolina Beach Boardwalk nominated to best in country list

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The Carolina Beach Boardwalk looking south from the Harper Avenue access. File photo by Hannah Leyva.
The Carolina Beach Boardwalk looking south from the Harper Avenue access. File photo by Hannah Leyva.

Another local attraction is in the running to be one of the best in the nation in its category.

The new Carolina Beach Boardwalk, which opened a new wooden oceanfront portion last spring and will be building a northern extension in the fall, has been nominated for best boardwalk in the country in USA Today’s 2016 10Best Readers’ Choice poll.

“The Carolina Beach Boardwalk bustles in summer, as families stroll past shops, restaurants and bars on the way to the seaside amusement park,” reads the info given on the website. “Seasonal activities, like live concerts and weekly fireworks in the summer and a lights festival at Christmas, add to the appeal of this East Coast boardwalk.”

According to Greg Reynolds, the executive director of the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce, the nomination was a surprise.

“We didn’t ask to be on that list or anything, so I’m not sure how we got on there, but we’re glad,” Reynolds said, noting his only complaint is that the site is currently using a photo of the old wooden boardwalk.

Before the new wooden walkway was built, Reynolds said the old boardwalk was nominated for a similar readers’ choice award and beat out the likes of more well-known boardwalks like Atlantic City.

“That was nice to be able to say, that for what it’s worth, we were voted ahead of them,” Reynolds said. “If you look at all the other boardwalks we’re up against, they’re all huge, but we like ours. It’s just right for us.”

In this poll, Carolina Beach is one of 20 nominees, and voters have until noon Eastern Daylight Time on May 23 to determine who makes the top of the list. The local boardwalk is once again up against Atlantic City as well as other famous waterfronts such as Coney Island in New York, Navy Pier in Chicago and Venice Beach and the Santa Monica Pier in California.

Reynolds said that when he first heard about the nomination, Carolina Beach was at No. 11 or No. 12 and has since jumped all the way to No. 3 as of Friday afternoon.

“There’s been a big groundswell of people voting. It’s just kind of caught on fire,” Reynolds said. “It’s the kind of David and Goliath story people like. There’s a lot of pride in this community.”

Over the last few years, the town has been in the process of rebranding itself as the region’s best family-friendly beach town, and the improvements at the boardwalk, along with all the things mentioned by the list makers, have been part of that. Reynolds, who coordinates many of the weekly events during the summer season, said the area is starting to come alive again as the weather warms up. Britt’s Donuts, the boardwalk’s mainstay for decades, reopened for the season last month, and the popular carnival rides are slated to be up and running by the weekend of May 13. Reynolds is hoping all the activity will translate into a better image of Carolina Beach overall, if not more votes.

“We like anything that gets our small little island good national attention,” said Reynolds, saying that a top 10 win would be good marketing for the town. “We’ve really been working hard to become a place people love coming to.”

Readers can vote once per day per device on the USA Today 10Best website until polls close on May 23.

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