Holly Run helps brings Christ­mas to Tang­ier Is­land

Record Observer - - News - By CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY ck­ersey@ches­pub.com

STEVENSVILLE — The Bay Bridge Air­port was the launch­ing point to bring Christ­mas cheer to res­i­dents of the tiny Tang­ier Is­land, Va. — by air­plane.

In the morn­ing hours of Satur­day, Dec. 10, pi­lots from Ch­e­sa­peake Bay re­gion braved the bit­ter cold and flew their small planes from the Bay Bridge Air­port to Tang­ier Is­land, which has a pop­u­la­tion of 460 peo­ple and is only ac­ces­si­ble by boat or air­plane.

As the tra­di­tion for al­most 50 years, the pi­lots par­tic­i­pated in the Tang­ier Holly Run by de­liv­er­ing holly to the is­land res­i­dents since holly is so scare there for res­i­dents to use for Christ­mas dec­o­ra­tions. And school sup­plies was de­liv­ered to the teach­ers be­cause it’s hard to get off the is­land to pur­chase the sup­plies.

Both the holly and school sup­plies are do­nated.

The big hit with the kids was Santa who came by plane and gave candy canes to the chil­dren at Tang­ier Is­land’s make-shift air­port.

Be­fore the pi­lots left for Tang­ier, they filled up on break­fast at the Bay Bridge Air­port with ba­con, ba­nanas, and freshly made blue­berry pan­cakes. Kim Allen of Stevensville was in charge of the break­fast and per­son­ally flipped the pan­cakes.

Dan Brown, pres­i­dent of the Ch­e­sa­peake Fly­ing Club, went on the trip. The club is one of the spon­sors. “It’s an op­por­tu­nity to give to a com­mu­nity that needs help. They are so iso­lated,” he said about the is­land.

He­len Woods, owner of the Ch­e­sa­peake Sport Pi­lot school in Stevensville, was the “chief elk” of the event. She de­scribed the vol­un­teer event by say­ing, “It’s a com­bi­na­tion of a real en­joy­able flight and Tang­ier Is­land is just so adorable.”

Steve Allen of Stevensville also vol­un­teered for the event. He couldn’t fly down this year, but he has be­fore. “It’s a fun ex­pe­ri­ence, a good cause. It’s a great op­por­tu­nity to get to­gether with the lo­cal pi­lot com­mu­nity,” he said.

Af­ter eat­ing break­fast, the pi­lots took off to Tang­ier Is­land. About 36 air­planes had reg­is­tered for the event and about 77 peo­ple went. It’s a 30 to 40 minute flight to Tang­ier.

The press also got a lift in a sixseater plane, pi­loted by vol­un­teer Joe Budge, an al­der­man in An­napo­lis. The plane ride went off with­out a hitch. There was some tur­bu­lence, but oth­er­wise the ride was smooth with in­cred­i­ble views of the Mid-Shore and, of course, Tang­ier Is­land.

Once landed, the planes parked in a row and then Santa emerged from one plane and a dozen kids crowded around him as he gave candy canes to them while their par­ents looked on and some took pictures.

Then there came the next part of this trip — a church ser­vice at the Swain Memo­rial United Methodist Church, which was a quick walk from the air­port land­ing strip. Dur­ing the walk, an odd habit of the town be­came ap­par­ent. Most res­i­dents got around by driv­ing golf carts. There were very few cars, which would have trou­ble get­ting by on the nar­row streets.

The Rev. John Flood led a short cer­e­mony at the church which in­cluded singing, a Bi­ble read­ing and pray­ing. Out­side the church were the bags of holly. Nor­mally, the church leaves the bags of holly next to the build­ing. Peo­ple know they can take what they want for their dec­o­ra­tions for their homes or the churches.

Af­ter the ser­vice, it was time to eat. Most peo­ple crowded into Lor­raine’s, one of the few restau­rants on the is­land. The fa­vorite or­der was the crab cake sand­wich and soup.

Some peo­ple also went to the Tang­ier His­tor y Mu­seum and In­ter­pre­tive Cul­tural Cen­ter, which openly briefly for the day. In­side the mu­seum stood James Eskridge, the mayor of the in­cor­po­rated Tang­ier Is­land. Eskridge’s nick­name is “Ooker.”

“The res­i­dents look for­ward to [the Holly Run]. They use the holly to dec­o­rate their churches and the cit­i­zens get some and use them in their homes. The school sup­plies help out a lot,” Eskridge said.

The Holly Run dates back to 1967 when East­ern Shore pi­lot Ed Nabb, Sr. started de­liv­er­ing hol­i­day greens (holly) to the is­land when he re­al­ized that the ris­ing sea level had eroded Tang­ier Is­land to the point that it no longer sup­ported the growth of holly or other tra­di­tional Christ­mas ev­er­greens.

His son, Ed Nabb Jr., took the reigns upon his fa­ther’s pass­ing, grow­ing the event to nearly three dozen pi­lots and planes car­ry­ing holly to the is­land. This year, the pi­lots are bring­ing school sup­plies for the stu­dents and teach­ers at the Tang­ier Com­bined School.

“Teach­ers on the is­land can’t just run out to Wal­mart like we can,” ex­plained He­len Woods, Ch­e­sa­peake Sport Pi­lot chief flight in­struc­tor and Holly Run co­or­di­na­tor.

Ch­e­sa­peake Sport Pi­lot flight school is the main or­ga­nizer for the sixth year run­ning. In ad­di­tion CSP has joined this year with Au­toGyro USA, Vans Air­craft, and the Ch­e­sa­peake Fly­ing Club in serv­ing break­fast to the pi­lots be­fore the flight at the Bay Bridge Air­port, in Stevensville.

PHOTSO BY CHRISTO­PHER KERSEY

Santa trav­eled with the Holly Run pi­lots to Tang­ier Is­land, Va., and greeted the chil­dren and gave them candy canes.

Santa came with the “Holly Run” from Bay Bridge Air­port to Tang­ier Is­land on Satur­day, Dec. 10.

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