(ELIZABETH CITY, NC, March 12, 2008) – As the spring boating season approaches, the longstanding tradition of welcoming boaters to the Elizabeth City waterfront will continue.
The Rose Buddies receptions – celebrating their 25th anniversary this year – will be coordinated by the only remaining Rose Buddy Dave Thomas. The Elizabeth City Area Convention & Visitors Bureau will provide administrative assistance for the program.
After the death last fall of Rose Buddies cofounder Fred Fearing, the future of the program was uncertain.
"Certainly Fred Fearing will be missed. But his years of hospitality, hours of daily dock visits (even if we didn’t have a party), established a tradition too valuable to lose," Thomas said. "The Harbor of Hospitality will continue to be that...just because that’s what we are...here to welcome transiting boaters with a hand of friendship and welcome and to provide help as needed. Fred would have had it no other way."
Fred Fearing and Joe Kramer, who died in 1985, created the Rose Buddies in 1983 to welcome transient boaters during the spring and fall seasons who took advantage of the city’s 48-hour free dockage.
They served beer, wine and snacks at Mariners' Wharf, and soon the volunteer-driven program became internationally known in the boating community.
As an avid supporter of boater amenities, Mayor Steve Atkinson believes the Rose Buddies epitomize what Elizabeth City is all about.
"We are the Harbor of Hospitality," Atkinson said.
Fearing was often seen throughout the day driving his golf cart, donated by Willard Scott of Today Show fame, inviting boaters to the afternoon reception.
Keeping with tradition, the receptions will be held when at least five newly arriving boats tie up at the waterfront. Grouper’s Restaurant has agreed to host the parties on its deck. The gatherings will begin at 4:30 p.m.
"We are just waiting for the boats," said Susan Hartley, the ECACVB Rose Buddies liaison.
For travel information and suggested itineraries, call the Elizabeth City Area Convention & Visitors Bureau at 1-866-ECity-4U (1-866-324-8948) or 252-335-5330 or go to www.DiscoverElizabethCity.com.