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Deck the Halls With Line and Flotsam

WRIGHTSVILLE BEACH — Christmas is all about recycling. The stories have been recycled for thousands of years. The traditions, including trees and decorations, have been passed down to us from the Middle Ages and beyond.

In November, the folks at N.C. Coastal Federation, in keeping with this fine tradition of Christmas recycling, announced that they would inaugurate the first Christmas season in their new headquarters here by inviting people to recycle nautical-themed items to decorate the building at the Fred and Alice Stanback Education Center.

The staff met, educator Ted Wilgis told a local newspaper, and decided to invite the community to decorate the building and “continue the theme of repurposing, reusing and recycling.”

Decorating festivities began on Monday, Dec. 1. The outside of the building was strung with garland made of nautical line donated by Atlantic Diving and Marine Contractors. The company in 2013 helped remodel the relocated Palmgren-O’Quinn that became the federation office in the Historic Square.

Mike Giles inspects the WWII-era line that the federation is inviting people to string recycled nautical  items on as Christmas decorations. Photos: Skip Maloney

Mike Giles inspects the WWII-era line that the federation is inviting people to string recycled nautical items on as Christmas decorations. Photos: Skip Maloney

“We called them and they found this rope,” said Mike Giles, a federation coastal advocate. “It was originally used on the Liberty ships during the war. They donated 200 feet of it and had to load it with a forklift.”

Federation staff cleaned the line a bit, and secured it to the railings on the second-floor exterior of the building. The Harbor Island Garden Club contributed wreaths, and federation board member David Paynter and others added evergreen trimmings from recent work on his own property.

Giles takes this re-purposing stuff very seriously, as evidenced by his own desk at the center, which is a made out of a used door, both its knobs still in place. He was among the first to contribute, adding what’s known as a “long-line float” to the exterior decor.

“My wife had been asking me to get rid of it for years,” he said.

Added to this motley collection of nautically-themed decorations were a variety of items re-cycled from federation work in local waterways.

“When we’re out on the water,” said Giles, “we end up picking up trash, like abandoned crab pot floats. A combination of people brought their own, too.”

The invitation to donate to the decor is with a tour of the building. According to Giles, a number of local residents have taken advantage, and there is tangible evidence that the community has taken note of the results.

“Part of the lights (wound around the nautical rope) went out recently,” said Giles, “and we got calls about it.”

Donations are still welcome, while the staff works on the interior with slightly more traditional decorations. All of it, scheduled to be in place by Thursday.

“That’s the date of our volunteer appreciation Christmas party,” said Giles,” at which we will recognize our volunteer of the year.”

There’s still room, so if you, or someone you know, has any appropriate, nautically-themed items to donate, feel free to bring them to the federation office and string them up on the Liberty ship docking rope. You’ll meet members of the staff, be conducted on something of an informal tour of the facilities and discover ways to contribute beyond the holidays.

About the Author

Skip Maloney

Skip Maloney is a full-time freelance writer, based in Wilmington. He writes regularly for a variety of regional and national magazines, including "Wrightsville Beach Magazine" and "City View Magazine" in Fayetteville. He is on-staff with the AZBilliards Web site, writing weekly reports on nationwide pool tournaments. He is also a frequent contributor to "Billiards Digest Magazine," "GAMES Magazine" and is a National Board Game Examiner with Examiner.com. Skip is also a lifetime theater enthusiast and was seen, most recently, in the Thalian Hall production of "Of Mice and Men."