CAROLINA BEACH — Every summer thousands of tourists and locals alike head to Carolina Beach to enjoy movies in the park, weekly fireworks, and other events hosted by the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce. This year the chamber is even hosting a new event, “Bark in the Park.” But hosting so many events can get expensive, especially when they are provided for free. In fact, this year the chamber has more than $400,000 in budgeted expenses.
Fortunately for the chamber, the Town of Carolina Beach will spend more than $100,000 to help put on the events — but locals can breathe a sigh of relief since it’s actually tourists and visitors that will be footing the bill.
In North Carolina, the county collects what is known as room occupancy tax. This is a tax that applies to hotels or any other type of short-term rental and in New Hanover County, the tax rate is 6%.
But unlike property tax or sales tax, ROT funding can’t simply be spent on day-to-day expenses, instead, there are strict requirements.
“The first 3% collected will be distributed at 60% for beach nourishment and the remaining 40% is to be used by the Tourism Development Authority (TDA) to promote travel and tourism throughout New Hanover County and shall not be used to plan, construct, operate, maintain or in any way promote a civic center, convention center, public auditorium or like facility,” according to New Hanover County’s Tax Department.
“The additional 3% collected in each individual beach community is dedicated to establishing two funds each to be used exclusively for that beach; at least one-half of the tax collected is to be used to promote travel and tourism and the other fund is for TDA approved tourism-related expenditures that are designed to increase the use of lodging facilities, meeting facilities or convention facilities or to attract tourists or business travelers to the area and includes tourism-related capital expenditures as approved by the TDA Board of Directors,” according to the department.
This year’s events
On Tuesday night, the Town Council gave its tentative approval to President of the Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce Greg Reynolds for the funding request. In turn, Reynolds offered the council and residents a look at what the chamber has planned for the upcoming season.
“This year we have a very ambitious program as usual,” Reynolds said.
Two new events are planned for the upcoming season: Bark in the Park and the Taste of Pleasure Island. Bark in the Park is a pet-friendly event revolving around animals, Reynolds said.
Every year visitors and residents ask for an event they can bring their pets to since all of the other events are not pet-friendly, he said, so this event will do just that. There used to be a similar event in Carolina Beach, Salty Paws, which has since ceased operation. Reynolds said he is going to try and work with local hotels to get them to be pet-friendly for the week of the event. The event is planned for early November.
The Taste of Pleasure Island will take the place of the annual Beach, Bacon, and Beer Festival. Although it was a heavily attended event, Reynolds cited some difficulties with vendors backing out at the last minute as the reason for the replacement. Right now the ‘Taste of’ event is planned for Oct. 10, 2020
The Pleasure Island Seafood Blues and Jazz Festival will be returning once again — and this year — Reynolds has a special headliner for the event, although, he can’t say who it is just yet.
He did drop a hint saying the artist recently won his fourth Grammy award.
Fireworks will continue each Thursday at the Carolina Beach Boardwalk as well as the annual 4th of July fireworks show — which will actually take place on July 3 (so people can attend other events around the region Reynolds said).
A full list of the upcoming events can be found below:
- 26th Annual Seafood Blues and Jazz Festival
- Thursday Night Fireworks
- 2020 Sunday Night Movies at the Lake
- 35th Annual Carolina Beach Music Festival
- Free Summer Concerts at Fort Fisher 2nd & 4th Fridays
- Pleasure Island Night with Wilmington Sharks
- Independence Day Fireworks
- 2nd Annual Rock the Beach Featuring Buffet
- Taste of Pleasure Island at the Lake
- Inaugural Bark in the Park at the Lake
- Pleasure Island Holiday Shopping Spree
- Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Membership Meeting and Dinner