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Activities Abound For Fourth of July

Meet Captain and the other Banker ponies in the Ocracoke Pony Pen during the special programs July 3 and July 4. Photo: National Park Service

COASTAL NORTH CAROLINA –  State parks, National Seashores, aquariums, museums, historic sites and more are offering a range of ways to celebrate the Fourth of July holiday.

In addition to the regularly offered activities highlighting history and environment of the coast, there will  special programs, including fireworks, the public is encouraged to enjoy.

Cape Hatteras National Seashore is hosting Fireworks Over Ocracoke at 9:15 p.m. July 3 at the National Park Service docks and around Silver Lake Harbor and Fireworks Over Hatteras at 9:15 p.m. July 4. Watch fireworks from the beach near the Avon Fishing Pier, 41001 N.C. 12, Avon. Rain date is July 5.

There are also several towns on the Outer Banks hosting fireworks shows. Details can be found here.

Outer Banks

Cape Hatteras National Seashore

There are 67 miles of ocean-facing beaches at Cape Hatteras National Seashore as well as soundside recreational areas, three lighthouses and three visitor centers.

An aerial photograph of Cape Hatteras Lighthouse before the historic move in the summer of 1999. Photo: Michael Booher

A special ceremony is being held to celebrate the 20th anniversary of the Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Move 9:30-11:30 a.m. July 1 at the lighthouse. The event will include speeches, a question and answer session, expanded interpretive programming, activities for children, and free lighthouse climbing. Details of the celebration can be found in this previous report.

There is also a daily program 10:30-11 a.m. that begins at the Hatteras Island Visitor Center to learn about the 1999 move of the entire light station 2,900 feet away from the threat of a changing shoreline.

Visitors can climb Cape Hatteras and Bodie Island Lighthouses from 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily. The base of the Ocracoke Lighthouse will be open from 1:30-3 p.m. July 2-3 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. July 4.

Learn more about the historic Hatteras Lighthouse, Ocracoke Lighthouse and Bodie Island lighthouse as well as the park’s many amenities on the Park Service website.

Hatteras Island Programs

  • Shaping this Barrier Island: 3:30-4 p.m. daily. Meet at the Hatteras Island Visitor Center to learn about how wars, wind, hurricanes and ocean currents have all changed the island.
  • Fish with a Ranger Program: 8-9:30 a.m. July 1 in Buxton and 8:30-10 a.m. July 2 in Rodanthe. Poles provided. Call 252-475-9622 to register.
  • Especially for Kids: 11:30 a.m. July 2 and July 5. Meet at the Hatteras Island Visitor Center for educational activities about seashore animals.
  • Dark Skies Over Hatteras: 9-10 p.m. July 2. Meet at Ramp 43 parking area with blankets and chairs for this evening of stars and stories on the beach.
  • Cast netting: 9:30-11 a.m. July 3. Call 252-475-9622 to register.
  • Morning Bird Walk: 8-9:30 a.m. July 4. Meet at the fish cleaning tables near Ramp 44 in Buxton. Binoculars are available but bring bug spray.
  • Salvo Soundside Activities for Kids: 9:30-10 a.m. July 5. Meet at the Salvo Sound Access for soundside exploration and discovery.

Ocracoke Island Programs

  • Pirates!: 1-1:30 p.m. July 1 and 2:30-3 p.m. July 3 Meet at the Ocracoke Visitor Center to learn about Blackbeard and others.
  • Barrier Island Nature: 3-3:30 p.m. July 1 and 2:30-3 p.m. July 4. Meet at Ocracoke Visitor Center to learn about the wild side of the park.
  • Ocracoke After Dark: 8:45-9:45 p.m. July 1. Meet at the Ocracoke Beach Access with blankets, chairs and bug spray for stargazing on the beach.
  • All About Turtles: 10:30-11 a.m. July 2-3 and 2:30-3 p.m. July 5. Meet at the Ocracoke Visitor Center.
  • Ocracoke History: 2:30 p.m. July 2 and 10:30 a.m. July 4 Meet at the Ocracoke Visitor Center to learn about the island’s past.
  • Banker Ponies: 9 a.m. July 3-4 Meet at the Ocracoke Pony Pen to visit the ponies unique to Ocracoke. Bring bug spray.
  • Meet Captain: 8-10 a.m. July 4. Meet the newest stallion at the Ocracoke Pony Pen.
  • Birds and Beaches of Ocracoke: 8:30-10 a.m. July 5. Join a ranger for an island exploration. Bring bug spray. Meet at the public parking lot adjacent to the Ocracoke Campground.
  • Community Beach Fire: 7-9 p.m. July 5. Meet at the Ocracoke Beach Access for the special event.

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site hosts each summer The Lost Colony drama at the Waterside Theater. Photo: NPS

Fort Raleigh National Historic Site is located on the north end of Roanoke Island, a few miles north of Manteo.

The National Park Service works to preserve and interpret the site of the first English colony in the New World and historical events of the Native Americans, European Americans and African Americans who lived on Roanoke Island, details for which can be found on the park website.

Fort Raleigh is also where the theatrical production, “The Lost Colony,” is performed throughout the summer.

At Fort Raleigh, visitors can learn about the mystery surrounding the The Lost Colony 10-10:30 a.m. and 3:30-4 daily at the Earthen Fort.

There’s an opportunity to paint your own watercolors during the youth program, John White Watercolors at 11:30 a.m. daily at the visitor center.  Observations of Thomas Hariot and the detailed watercolor paintings by John White offered Europeans a glimpse of the native people, plants and animals of the New World, according to the park.

A program highlighting the Women of the Lost Colony, from the Queen of England to the Carolina-Algonquin women, is 1:30-2 p.m. daily at the Earthen Fort.

During the American Civil War, Roanoke Island sheltered formerly enslaved people. Discover the history of Freedmen’s Colony and its fate after the Civil War during the 2:30 p.m. daily program at the Earthen Fort.

Wright Brothers National Memorial

Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills commemorates the first successful power-driven airplane flight, made by Wilbur and Orville Wright, on Dec. 17, 1903.

The Wright Brothers National Memorial in Kill Devil Hills is part of the National Park Service Outer Banks Group. Photo: National Park Service

Step back in history during a short walk to the actual site of the Wright brothers’ first powered flights and learn why Kitty Hawk was chosen during the Wind and Sand ranger program 10-10:30 a.m. and 11-11:30 a.m. June 29-July 1 and July 5-6 and at noon and 4 p.m. daily. meet back patio of the visitor center

Test the winds of Kitty Hawk just like Wilbur and Orville Wright by flying a kite during the Wright Kite July 2-4. Children must be accompanied by an adult at all times, recommended for 6 and up. Meet in front of the reconstructed camp building. This is a drop-in activity at any time between 9:30 and 11:30 am. Kites are available on a first come, first served basis.

A ranger will tell visitors about the Wrights’ legacy and their 12-second flight at 10 a.m. July 2-4 as well as at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. daily. Meet at the white tent on the south end of the Junior Aviator Store.

Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum

The Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras, named in honor of thousands of shipwrecks that sank off North Carolina’s coast, is dedicated to the preservation and presentation of the state’s coastal culture and maritime history, which includes these shipwrecks, this repository of history.

For more information, call 252-986-0720 or visit

  • Maritime Crafts for Kids 10:30 a.m.-noon each Wednesday. Crafting with a coastal twist during this free program. All supplies are provided.
  • Endangered Community: The Independent Waterman Project 2 p.m. July 2. Free. Join Hatteras photographer Daniel Pullen for a discussion of his photo series Endangered Community: The Independent Waterman Project.
  • Painting Canvas-backed Decoys noon-4 p.m. Fridays. Sam Green will demonstrate painting canvas-backed decoys. Purchase raffle tickets to win a handcrafted decoy.
  • A Pirate’s Life 2 p.m. July 9. Join Chris Suttle for a discussion on pirates.
  • Crafting Sailor’s Valentines 10:30 a.m.-noon July 11. All supplies are furnished .
  • “Project Nutmeg: How the Outer Banks Almost Wasn’t” 2 p.m. July 16.
  • Documenting Disaster: Weather Dictates the Way of Island Life – Hurricane Talk Series 11 a.m. July 18.
  • Sea Shanties and Songs of the Sea 2 p.m. July 23. Join JR Shanty Co. for sea shanties.
  • Book talk and signing: Summer Heat 11 a.m.-2 p.m. July 25. Join author, sailor and former police major David Hope for the book signing.
  • Maritime Folk Songs 2 p.m. July 30. Josh Nonnenmocher will perform maritime folk songs.

Carteret & Craven Counties

Cape Lookout National Seashore

Cape Lookout Lighthouse

A 3-mile boat ride takes visitors to Cape Lookout National Seashore’s barrier islands where visitors can watch horses, shell, fish, bird watch, camp, climb the lighthouse and tour historic villages.

Officials recommend bringing all the food, water, and supplies you need, and carry your trash out of the park, when visiting these remote beaches.

Meet the ranger at the pavilion in front of the Light Station Visitor Center Wednesday through Sunday at 10:30 a.m. for a 20-minute presentation covering various aspects of the park and at 2:30 pm for a 45-minute activity such as a beach walk or interactive demonstration.

Learn more about Cape Lookout’s summer programs  in this previous report.

North Carolina Maritime Museum in Beaufort

The Friends of the North Carolina Maritime Museum is hosting its annual Great Fourth Race July 6 leaving from docks of the museum’s Harvey W. Smith Watercraft Center on Front Street. The course, between 6 and 20 miles, is designed so that the race will last between four and eight hours, depending on wind and weather conditions.

Spectators can catch the best view from 9 to 10 a.m. when the entrants are in Taylors Creek awaiting the race’s start. Boaters interested in participating must register in advance by calling 252-728-2762.

Fort Macon State Park

Fort Macon State Park is home to a restored Civil War-era fort located on the Bogue Banks near Atlantic Beach. The fort property is surrounded by water at the eastern tip of Bogue Banks and has a unique the ecosystem. There are regular programs led by rangers focusing on both history and the local environment. There is also a bathhouse and wheelchair-accessible beachside areas. Visit the website for more programs held throughout the summer.

  • Tours of the historic fort are offered at 11 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. daily.
  • Summer concerts in the fort at 6:30 p.m. June 28. Bring a folding chair for the free concert.
  • Musket firing demonstration at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. June 29-30. And July 6-7 Learn about a Civil War-era musket’s history, loading procedures and firing. Meet in the fort.
  • Flags of Fort Macon & the Confederacy at 10 a.m. July 1. Meet at the fort visitor center to learn about the wide range of flags used by the Confederacy during the War Between the States.
  • Evening Gun at 4 p.m. July 3. Meet in the fort to watch a 19th century cannon be loaded and fired in the military tradition of the “Evening Gun.” Coast Guard Base Fort Macon will provide the cannon crew.
  • Cannon Day at 10:30 a.m., 11:30 a.m., 1:30 p.m., 2:30 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. July 4. Come down to Fort Macon and learn how Civil War cannons function.
  • Turtle Talk at 10:30 a.m. July 5. Join a ranger to talk about all species of turtles. Meet at the bathhouse.

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is opening July 4 its new Eagle Landing exhibit. Photo: NC Aquariums

The North Carolina Aquarium at Pine Knoll Shores is having July 4 a grand opening for its new “Eagle Landing” exhibit, a 3,000-square-foot home for two bald eagles that are unable to fly or survive in the wild. Read up on the new exhibit in this previous report.

The Pine Knoll Shores aquarium is 5 miles west of Atlantic Beach at 1 Roosevelt Blvd., Pine Knoll Shores. The aquarium is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m. daily. For more information, visit or call 252-247-4003. Registration is required for all programming.

  • Behind the Scenes: The Aquarium at a Glance is noon to 12:45 p.m. Mondays through Saturdays for ages 5 and older. Get an overhead view of the “Living Shipwreck” exhibit. $15
  • Behind the Scenes: Feeding Frenzy, 2:30-3:30 p.m. Mondays, Wednesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays. Feed the animals in the “Living Shipwreck” exhibit. Ages 5 and up. $20
  • Roosevelt Natural Area Paddle Trip: 9-11 a.m. is offered on Tuesdays and Saturdays. The aquarium provides the canoe or kayak. Ages 8 and up. $30
  • Behind the Scenes: Shark Snack 2:30-3:30 p.m. Tuesdays and Fridays. Ages 5 and up. $20.
  • Sea Turtle Trek 7-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Sundays. Explore behind the scenes areas before a nighttime beach walk to look for nests. Ages 5 and up. $20
  •  Stand-up Paddleboarding for Kids 9-11 a.m. Mondays.  Ages 6 and up. $40
  • Behind the Scenes: Otter Antics 1-2 p.m. Mondays. Ages 12 and up. $20
  • Kids Night Out: 6-10 p.m. Mondays. Drop your kids at the aquarium for the evening. Snacks and pizza dinner are included. Ages 4-12. $40
  • Behind the Scenes: Birds, 1-2 p.m. Tuesdays. Learn from staff how care for birds. Ages 5 and up. $20
  • Sleep with the Fishes: 6 p.m. Wednesday to 9 a.m. Thursday.  Sleep by the “Living Shipwreck” exhibit. Snacks, pizza dinner, breakfast, programs and aquarium tour are included. $50
  • Fishing Fanatics: 8-11 a.m. Thursdays.  Equipment, bait and licensing requirements are covered. Ages 10 and up. $25
  • Sound Seafood: Catching Crabs and Clams, 1-3 p.m. Thursdays. Ages 8 and up. $20
  • Stand-up Paddleboarding: 9-11 a.m. Fridays. Explore Bogue Sound on a stand-up paddle board with an instructor. Ages 12 and up. $40
  • Aquarist Apprentice: 1:30-4 p.m. Fridays. Learn about the animals while assisting with caretaking. Ages 13 and up. $30
  • Behind the Scenes: Aquarium Close Encounters 2-3:30 p.m. Sundays. Get overhead view of the “Living Shipwreck” exhibit. Ages 5 and up. $25

Tryon Palace

The Declaration of Independence is read during a past Tryon Palace July Fourth event. Photo: Tryon Palace

See a reenactment one of the earliest celebrations of American Independence at the Glorious Fourth at Tryon Palace 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. July 4.

Visitors can enjoy the palace grounds at no charge between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. After the Fife and Drum Corps Parade down the main walkway at 11 a.m., the Declaration of Independence will be read from Palace front steps. The 1st North Carolina Regiment of the Continental Line, which will be on the South Lawn during the event, will perform a firing demonstration immediately after.

Children will have a chance to practice using a quill pen to sign their own copy of the Declaration, and costumed historical interpreters will be roaming the grounds. Tours of the palace, historic buildings and galleries in the North Carolina History Center are available with purchase of a one-day pass.

New Hanover County

Carolina Beach State Park has a marina, secluded camping area and miles of hiking trails across its 761 acres between the Atlantic Ocean and the Cape Fear River.

To learn more about the park, programs or see future events, check the park website.

  • Carnivorous Plant Hike: 10 a.m. June 29, June 30 and July 6.  See sundews, bladderworts, butterworts, pitcher plants and the Venus fly trap. Meet at the Nature Trail Lane Parking area
  • Sea Turtle Talk: 7 p.m. July 3. Pleasure Island Sea Turtle Project will present a talk on sea turtles at the Carolina Beach State Park visitor center.
  • Astronomy Program: 8 p.m. July 6. Cape Fear Astronomy Society will be on hand with telescopes set up to view the night sky. Program will begin around sunset and conclude 15 minutes before the park closes.


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About the Author

Staff Report

The story was compiled by staff members of Coastal Review Online.