SOUTHEASTERN N.C. — Carolina Beach has become the official homebase for another GRiZmas in July fundraiser, proposed to take place on the north end of Pleasure Island this summer.
Town council voted Tuesday evening to allow the concert to happen at the privately owned Carolina Beach Pier at 1800 Carolina Beach Avenue N. The board had to approve the show because of a moratorium placed on additional events in Carolina Beach from Memorial Day to Labor Day.
“A few councils ago they thought it was a good idea to just put a moratorium in place because we have so many existing events in that time,” Parks and Recreation Recreation Program Superintendent Tim Murphy said. “Our fire and police was just so taxed during the season.”
The island is host to numerous happenings almost every Saturday or Sunday in the summer, along with its weekend farmers markets. Its free fireworks and Boardwalk concerts take place 16 consecutive weeks in summer months too.
“That in itself is just for police and fire and us every single Thursday of the summer,” Murphy said.
Electronic artist GRiZ has performed in the greater Wilmington area since 2017 — first at Greenfield Lake Amphitheater and over the last two years at Live Oak Bank Pavilion. His shows have been sell-outs at the concert venues.
In the past, the beach parties were pop-up events often announced at the last minute. The first few years they were held at Mason’s Inlet, just south of Figure 8 Island. In 2022, Carolina Beach Bar Club, 98.3 The Penguin, Beau Gunn Presents and Ocean Cure moved the beach party south of the bath house at Fort Fisher. (Full disclosure: Beau Gunn is the general manager of Local Daily Media, the parent company of Port City Daily and 98.3 Penguin.)
GRiZ and organizers made last year’s beach party a ticketed event for the first time to benefit a local charity. Roughly 4,000 people attended, in effect raising $18,000 for Ocean Cure. The nonprofiit helps people overcome physical challenges to enjoy the beach — such as providing beach wheelchairs, installing accessible flooring at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk, and providing adaptive surf boards.
Matt Hamlet and Patrick Conley of Carolina Beach Bar Club told council the organization has raised around $500,000 for local agencies and families in need. It helped displaced residents after the Paradise Cove fires in 2021 and assists the Neon Nighttime Bike Brigade, a fundraiser held every fall also for Ocean Cure, founded by Kevin Murphy.
“Our hope is that we will probably raise in the neighborhood of $20,000 to $30,000 for Ocean Cure for this one event,” Conley told council during his presentation. “That’s very close to the numbers that we do for the Neon Nighttime Bike Brigade.”
The charity show in Carolina Beach is slated to take place July 30, organizers said at Tuesday’s meeting. Other than a few festivals, official dates for GRiZ’s 2023 summer tour have not been announced by Live Nation nor by the Detroit DJ, songwriter and producer.
However, Conley indicated perhaps two additional GRiZ concerts are coming: “This [beach party] is going to be announced with the other two events happening in Wilmington.”
In his pitch, he reasoned the impact could be greater on tourism, seeing as those who travel to see GRiZ may be more inclined to stay on the island.
“I believe we’re going to end up with literally hundreds of people staying in Carolina Beach that will commute up to Wilmington for the concert just so they can be here for the show when that happens on Sunday,” Conley said.
The Carolina Beach pier and its surrounding property can hold approximately 3,000 people.
The pier’s new owner Katherinn Kloss sent a letter to council stating she would work “alongside Carolina Beach and all other relevant departments to ensure a successful and safe event.”
“Are you proposing to close the beach, like they do for beach music festival?” council member Mike Hoffer asked.
“No, they’re serving alcohol, so that whole area [near the pier] will be closed off,” Tim Murphy answered.
He told PCD organizers originally wanted to host the show along the public beach strand in general.
“We collectively didn’t think that was going to be a good idea,” Murphy said Wednesday morning.
Council asked if 3,000 people would be problematic to the shore in that area, to which Murphy assured he measured and it follows city code. According to the event site plan, the property will be blocked off starting at the Salt Marsh public beach access beside the pier and run north to the North Pier parking lot; the stage will be set up in front of the lot beachside.
Carolina Beach Bar Club will outfit the GRiZ beach party at the pier with volunteers to take tickets, man the area’s fencing and help with the shuttle buses that will be stationed in area parking lots.
Parking was the biggest concern for the events committee, Murphy confirmed. The year-round population of Carolina Beach is 6,500, according to the U.S. Census, which balloons to 30,000 in the summer.
Yet, there are a few parking lots in the area that the team is assessing to run shuttles to and from the concert location. One is an empty lot owned by Proximity at 1000 Lake Park Ave., next to the Publix grocery store. Organizers have permission to use it unless the complex breaks ground beforehand, Murphy said.
Town-owned lots, Seaside East and West, by Nollie’s Taco Joint at the boardwalk are also optional to rent out. Murphy said there have been talks about enlisting rideshare opportunities for ticket holders as well.
“It also would be neat to find alternative parking if you’re bringing your bikes,” Mayor Lynn Barbee said at the meeting. “Like Mike Chappell Park or somewhere that encourages them to take advantage of the multi-use paths and the greenway that’s promoting the town. I think that would be extremely good and it’s free. I think they would enjoy it.”
The events committee met roughly three times since the fall to hash out plans, with public safety being the number one concern. Murphy said he has been working with the police chief to ensure enough personnel will be in place, as well as additional porta Johns and lifeguards.
He delivered to council Tuesday the events committee’s recommendation to move forward with the show.
“Carolina Beach has never done this before,” councilman Jay Healy told the organizers. “There’s a lot of pressure on you guys to make this work.”
“Understood,” Conley said.
Since the concert would take place on a Sunday from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m., Murphy didn’t foresee too many problems with property owners nearby, especially units that may be under construction.
Though council suggested organizers reach out to neighbors ahead of time.
“I think they will be excited about having this then once they understand,” Mayor Barbee said. “If they got short-term rentals, they’ll be really excited because they’re getting to leverage that.”
Council unanimously voted to allow the GRiZ show to take place this summer at Carolina Beach Pier.
[Port City Daily has updated the article to appropriately credit Patrick Conley giving council the presentation.]
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