Monday, September 25, 2023

Signs of the times: From ominous to uplifting, messages shared in emptying Cape Fear communities [Free read]

Dry Dock Vacation Club in Carolina Beach’s sign asks the public to “keep the faith” as the coronavirus shuts down businesses during the historic health and economic crisis. (Port City Daily photo/Johanna F. Still)

NEW HANOVER COUNTY — Two weeks into the governor’s stay-at-home order, Pleasure Island’s beach towns are strangely quiet.

By this time most years, tourists would normally be flocking to the area, providing many seasonal businesses the bulk of their annual revenue.

Related: Faces of Wilmington: Portraits of residents masking up for the Covid-19 crisis [Free read]

But the novel coronavirus has forced the closure of businesses ready to welcome visitors. Motels, hotels, restaurants, bars, gift shops, schools, churches, and more remain closed for the foreseeable future. Traffic in town is down in Wilmington by at least 35%.

In a Pleasure Island Chamber of Commerce survey distributed days before Governor Roy Cooper’s March 30 stay-at-home order, 87% of the 54 respondents reported a negative impact on their business. One-fifth of the respondents had laid off staff, with 13% anticipating layoffs. By now, these figures are likely much higher.

Signs of the coronavirus are seemingly everywhere, with many businesses and churches updating their external copy to send a message. Some signs offer a warning of new laws or new business offerings. Many offer a message of hope.

From Myrtle Grove to Monkey Junction to Pleasure Island, check out a collection of messages shared through signs:

“This too, shall pass,” Pleasure Island Rentals, Carolina Beach.
“Beach strand closed,” Kure Beach Pier, Kure Beach.
“God is in control; pray without ceasing,” The Sand Dunes, Kure Beach.
(Above) “No,” Moran Motel, Kure Beach. An empty beach strand as seen through empty condos from the Moran Motel in Kure Beach.
“Spread love not germs,” Kure Beach.
“Air purifier kill viruses $199,” Island Appliance, New Hanover County.
“Stay strong,” Golden Sands Motel, Carolina Beach.

(Left) “Be the best version of you resilient mom 71713,” Palm Air Realty, Kure Beach. (Right) “Delivery Available,” McDonald’s, Carolina Beach.

“Faith not fear; pray don’t panic; be wise don’t worry,” Cape Fear Baptist Church, New Hanover County.
“All beach accesses are closed until further notice!” Kure Beach.

(Left) A public access sign draped in caution tape in Kure Beach. (Right) A masked woman rides past public accesses in Kure Beach.

“No Vacancy,” Microtel, and “Shark Rescue Authorized Dealer,” in an empty Wings parking lot, Carolina Beach.
“Normal operations temporarily suspended,” The SeaWitch Cafe & Tiki Bar, Carolina Beach.
“Closed be safe,” Granny’s Country Kitchen, Carolina Beach.

(Left) “Gratitude turns what we have into enough,” Parsley Elementary School, Wilmington. (Right) Worship with us on Facebook or Youtube Sundays at 11,” Masonboro Baptist Church, Wilmington.

“Stay healthy and safe Gators,” Myrtle Grove Middle School, New Hanover County.

(Left) “Join services on-line; all are welcome,” Holy Cross Episcopal Church, New Hanover County. (Right) “We will survive,” Gossip Salon, New Hanover County.

“Fever and respiratory symptoms?” Wilmington Health digital advertisement, Food Lion shopping center, Carolina Beach.

Send tips and comments to Johanna Ferebee Still at

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