Intracoastal Waterway celebration a blast from the past

Published 1:58 pm Monday, September 19, 2016

BELHAVEN — Flappers and gents took to the streets Saturday for a celebration of the Intracoastal Waterway and peek at the past, and styles from long ago.

Clam chowder abounded, as did vendors selling gifts and collectibles, during the daylong festival, a highlight of which was a costume contest. Ladies dressed in sequins and fringe and guys donning newspaper boy hats and suspenders paraded before the judges with a backdrop of roaring ’20s ragtime music. The era is part of Belhaven’s long history: In 1928, a 22-mile segment of the now 3,000-mile Intracoastal Waterway running up the East Coast of the U.S. was completed between the Pungo River and the Alligator River. Then, tens of thousands of revelers from across the eastern seaboard traveled to the town to recognize its completion with a celebration that made national news.

For the last several years, Belhaven has embraced that history with the ICW celebration, and engaged residents and out-of-town visitors alike to join in the fun and get a little creative with their costumes.

Flamboyant color was the key for some entries into the costume contest on Saturday — in wigs, dresses and swaggering style — while others dressed to impress in more sedate, classic tones.

First place in the adult division were Mary Foreman and Mark Gnagy, whose outfits were on point, though it was their theatrics that caught the judges’ attention, according to emcee of the event Dave Rieves.

“One of the reasons they won was because they danced,” Rieves said, referring to the modified Charleston the couple performed as they paraded before judges.

The contest wasn’t limited to adults, but it was a little harder to pick out a winner for the young ones who got into the ICW spirit, Rieves said.

“They were all so cute, they (the judges) couldn’t make a decision,” Rieves said.