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Light Up the Night

YESTERYEAR’S HANGOUT: The Lumina Pavilion acted as a community hub of entertainment from 1905 ‘til it was demolished in 1973. Courtesy photo, Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.

YESTERYEAR’S HANGOUT: The Lumina Pavilion acted as a community hub of entertainment from 1905 ‘til it was demolished in 1973. Courtesy photo, Wrightsville Beach Museum of History.

“Lumina” comes from the Latin word “lumen,” meaning light. In its early days, Wrightsville Beach’s famed Lumina Pavilion (1905-1973) fashioned over 600 tungsten lights on its exterior, alongside an illuminated sign: “L-U-M-I-N-A.” A central hub for the Wrightsville Beach community, the pavilion drew in dozens of famous musicians and tourists. It even survived Hurricane Hazel in 1954.

Annually since 1996 the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History hosts a celebration in the pavilion’s honor: Lumina Daze. The 2013 event returns on August 25th at the Blockade Runner Resort. The yearly festivity celebrates the memory of Lumina Pavilion, offering a night to turn the clocks back and return to treasured times at Wrightsville Beach.

Attendees can reminisce on the legendary Lumina Pavilion while enjoying an evening full of dancing, dining and live music. The director of the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, Madeline Flagler, reflects on what the pavilion stood for to Wrightsville Beach.
“Lumina was built to draw people to [the beach] in an atmosphere of summer fun and entertainment,” Flagler says.

“We work hard to recreate that atmosphere with music that connects our guests to the beach; food that is light and grilled; and auction items that connect the guests to the local businesses. Lumina Daze has always been a truly local event.”

At the time of its peak, before and during World War II, the pavilion hosted famous musicians, including Tommy Dorsey, North Carolina’s own Kay Kyser, and Guy Lombardo. Dance contests, beauty pageants and beach games also took place. Built by Tidewater Power and Light in 1905, the building contained food vendors and a bowling alley. Its purpose was to encourage development as a summer resort.

“Later, the local hangout, ‘Upper Deck’ was built there [and] served grilled food and beer with live music at the weekends,” Flagler tells.

Throughout the 1920s and ‘30s, movies played on a large screen, which hung 50 feet in the surf in front of the pavilion. Movie-goers congregated on the beachfront to watch it. The pavilion opened during a time when there were few ways to get music and entertainment into one’s home. Generally, the only way to listen to it, bar from making it, was to be at a concert. However, when the ‘60s arrived, TV and radio, filled a niche. Simultaneously, the Upper Deck, although popular, was such a large structure that the majority of the space wasn’t being used. Property on the beach became very expensive, eventually making the pavilion unmanageable. It was demolished due to the times and its old age.

Initially set up to benefit the Wrightsville Beach Preservation Society, Lumina Daze now acts as a fund-raiser for what’s evolved into the Wrightsville Beach Museum of History. The museum will have its book, “Tide and Time,” chronicling the history of the town, for sale at the event.

“It’s a different beach than it was [during the Lumina Pavilion days,]” Flagler admits. “In its heyday Wrightsville Beach was a resort with huge hotels and a big entertainment center. Today we are more of a family beach with more personal resorts. The area is not as centralized, but the feeling of community is really strong.”

Guests of Lumina Daze will enjoy music by the Wilmington Big Band in the Lee Ballroom (4-5 p.m., 7-8 p.m.), as well as the Dixieland All-Stars in the Nighthawk Room (5-7 p.m.), and beach and shag music by The Imitations on the patio (6:45-7:45 p.m.; 8:15-9:15 p.m.).

Similar to previous years, the popular live and silent auctions will return. Prizes include gift certificates and gift baskets from area businesses like Motts Channel Seafood, local jeweler Kay Morgan, Wrightsville Beach Scenic Tours and more. The silent auction will be ongoing throughout the night; the live auction will be starting at 7.30 p.m. Prizes include a Marine Max boat cruise, a painting by local artist Betty Brown, Kingoffs Jeweler’s white gold pendant, and a stand-up paddle board, among others.

Attendees can look forward to food provided by the Blockade Runner Resort. Chef Mark Lawson and his crew will serve grilled chicken sandwiches, hamburgers and salads. The Blockade Runner’s restaurant, East, and a cash bar will be open for Lumina Daze guests, too. Tickets for this event cost $15 and can be purchased at the museum, from board members, or at the door the night of the event.

“The Wrightsville Beach Museum sees itself with an important mission to serve this small community,” Flagler states, “and they gather at
Lumina Daze.”

DETAILS:
Lumina Daze

August 25th, 4 p.m. – 10 p.m.
Tickets: $15
Blockade Runner Resort
275 Waynick Blvd
www.wbmuseum.com

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Encore Magazine regularly covers topics pertaining to news, arts, entertainment, food, and city life in Wilmington. It also maintains schedules and listings of local events like concerts, festivals, live performance art and think-tank events. Encore Magazine is an entity of H&P Media, which also powers Wilmington’s local ticketing platform, 910tix.com. Print and online editions are updated every Wednesday.

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