I started this blog in part to give people an insight into cool things we love about living here. My wife and I enjoy trying new things but when we find things that we truly enjoy and tend to be creatures of habit. The Tiki bar at the Ocean Grill on Thursday nights is one of those habits.
The Ocean Grill Tiki bar is what’s left of what was once Center Pier located in Carolina Beach. You can see an early photo along with other old pictures of fishing piers here. In 1996 hurricane Fran finished the process started by hurricane Bertha by and truncating the pier's length to the high tide mark. After Mother Nature worked her magic what was once a fishing pier was now suited to a higher purpose of providing frosty beverages and cool vibes to the thirsty beach throngs thus was born the Tiki bar.
Now normally a Tiki bar would be cool enough but Thursday’s are indeed the cherry on the proverbial Sundae Each Thursday night, weather permitting; bands situate at the end of the pier. The joint is run by Abbie and Dave Sinclair who came up with the idea of hosting bands on the pier and are often found mingling among the folks enjoying the music.
The Hawaiian band the Da Howlies was the first band to play this venue and they generally make a yearly appearance but the stage attracts a variety of acts and genres from surf, ska, reggae, rockabilly, to bluegrass. “Dex” Romweber of the Flat Duo Jets fame shows up each summer. The music starts around 7 and is over when the weekly fireworks start at 9. This year’s schedule is here.
Since we are from the area and firmly rooted with tons of family we often come heavy. Last night my sister, brother-in-law, my other sister visiting from Germany, my brother, sister-in-law, and a cousin visiting from Prague were there just to mention family. Our neighbors from downtown were there also and coincidentally the band that Thursday, Open Field, was staying at their house on Carolina Beach. Every week different friends, neighbors, business associates, are around and we meet new people every week. You don’t have to know anyone to enjoy the scene, but if you do show up, you are likely to know someone before you leave. Also if you befriend one of us you get the bunch…it’s a package deal.
There is really no venue which can compare. Families set up camps beside the pier and children play in the surf and wade in tide pools while the adults sit and listen. Surfers catch swells just off of the two pylons that are remnants of the pier from prior fishing days. The band stands in front of a backdrop of the ocean and sky which transitions from the “golden hour” glow into starry twilight. The pier sways and even bounces with the energy and movement of the music.
At 9 PM the weekly fireworks at the Carolina Beach boardwalk burst into the air marking the end of the Thursday evening revelry. The music comes to an end and the crowd turns to the north to watch the fireworks through to the finale. With the last boom, goodbyes are said and the crowd turns and ambles into the dark night towards the lights of the headlights already headed home.