Parade, planes and a new commodore highlight festival

bheffernan@islandpacket.comJuly 27, 2013 

  • Sunday's events

    - 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.: Festival arts and crafts market on the promenade.

    - Noon to 2 p.m.: Blessing of the Fleet and Parade of Boats. Free.

    - 1 to 3 p.m.: Entertainment by Vessel221.

    - 3 p.m.: Festival ends.

As the 58th Annual Beaufort Water Festival dances to a close, at least one detail for the festival next year has been decided -- 2014 will be a family affair.

Brandy Gray was tapped as the 59th Commodore and received her official blazer Saturday evening from her great uncle, 3rd Commodore Sammy Gray, during the Change of Watch Ceremony on the rooftop of Old Bay Marketplace.

Brandy, a fifth-generation Port Royal resident, said later that the moment was "extremely emotional and memorable -- one I'll never forget."

It's also a little bittersweet, she said.

Next year -- her 16th working as a volunteer -- will be her last, according to festival tradition.

"You serve your year (as commodore), then they send you out to pasture," Gray said. "I'm going to go through withdrawals."

But that pain can wait.

Saturday night, Gray said, was a celebration involving with music from The Holiday Band, dancing, friends and, of course, family.

Hope you didn't miss: The flipping, twisting, roaring and soaring air show at the Henry C. Chambers Waterfront Park Saturday afternoon.

The biplanes' tricks were enough to draw Bernardine Minton from behind her soap stand sales counter to join the crowd lining the sea wall at the arts and crafts market.

Her favorite moment -- "when they went straight up, so high that you could barely see them, then came barreling down" -- was just one tiny portion of the "incredible show," she said.

Better not miss: Savor the Water Festival to its last drop at the Blessing of the Fleet and Parade of Boats from noon to 2 p.m. at Waterfront Park. The boats will circle near the sea wall and be decorated in this year's theme, the "Southern Side of Summer." Father Paul MacNeil of St. Peter Catholic Church will perform the blessing.

Volunteer of the day: James Nutt

James Nutt of Bluffton didn't parachute into the Waterfront Park on Saturday, race down Bay Street in a hospital bed on Friday or paddle a raft in the Beaufort River last Saturday, but he has been part of the festival's most memorable moments nonetheless.

Nutt, 27, a field estimator for Builders Wholesale Carpet in Bluffton, is a logistics man.

As water and air director this year, he made sure the landing zone was clear for the parachuters, the rafters had paddles and says he was "the architect" behind the 58th Commodore Dan Thompson's ice-water-and-flour shower at the finale of the Bed Race.

"I enjoy putting this on for the community, ... but my favorite thing is the family I've gained through this stuff," Nutt said.

This year, his seventh volunteering, has been "wonderful," he said.

Socially speaking: Michael Wilkins, @BigMikee42:

"Beaufort water festival concert tonight for the second night in a row. #tired #beaufortwaterfestival"

The competitive edge: The Veterans Tribute of Savannah won the most patriotic award at the Water Festival grand parade held Saturday morning. Regions Bank was named the most festive music presentation, and the Beaufort Shag Club won for best presentation of the festival's theme.

Follow reporter Brian Heffernan at twitter.com/IPBG_Brian.

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