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Back You are here: Home Opinion Opinion Section Letters to the Editor Response to “Family-Oriented? A Look at Wing Fling.”

Response to “Family-Oriented? A Look at Wing Fling.”

From Lynnea Mallalieu, Wing Fling Organizer,
Wing Fling will take place in Carolina Beach for the third consecutive year on March 23rd on Cape Fear Blvd near the boardwalk, and I was glad to read that Mr. Killough likes beer and wings; however, the Managing Editor’s recent editorial took a fairly negative “Look at Wing Fling”.  While I clearly accept that the event provokes mixed reactions, I would like to share a different “Look at Wing Fling.”  First, a bit of history - Seventeen years ago a UNCW student (please take a minute to see her on You Tube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QrY5szUu-9U) created Wing Fling as part of an internship. She formed teams of students to help with every aspect of major event planning including sponsorships, logistics, advertising, public relations, budgeting, human resource management, and charitable giving.  
For the first 12 years, the event was family-oriented and was held in Hugh MacRae Park. Unfortunately, like a perfect storm, the 13th year proved to be a pivotal point in the history of the event.  The weather was perfect, local radio kept announcing on-air for people to get to the event, there were no park rules in place with regard to the amount of alcohol people could bring, there was no age limit in terms of entering the event.  Despite the Wing Fling volunteers’ best efforts, the event was, out of our control.  We knew that if the event was to survive for a 14th year it needed to be revamped. We put new rules in place and found a new venue.  The event moved to the Battleship in 2010, and for the first time alcohol was controlled – there was no longer any BYOB and an age restriction of 21 and over was put in place to proactively prevent underage drinking.  The age restriction means that the event is not family-oriented.  This is something we hope to restore in future years but Carolina Beach town officials and police agree that the event should be 21+.
The Battleship event was a success; however, the Battleship management decided that it was not feasible to repeat such a large event during the day while at the same time remaining open to the public as they are required to do because the ship is a national monument. They invited us back but only if we held the event in the evening, which we chose not to do. 
That brings us to the past few years in Carolina Beach.  In October 2010, we received an event permit from the City of Wilmington to hold the event on private property north of Cape Fear Community College, but the police put a block on any new alcohol permits because of a murder outside the Rhino Club in the downtown vicinity. We were told the event could still take place but that people would have to BYOB, which would again mean there was no control over the alcohol.  We were not prepared to take a backward step and as such we had 10 days in early March 2011, to move the event.  In 2010, when we were looking for a venue other than the Battleship, officials from Carolina Beach had contacted us, and invited us to hold the event in Carolina Beach - we did not “convince” anyone as was suggested in the Mr. Killough’s editorial.  We agreed to move the event and we did our very best in 10 days to consult as many people as possible to try to accommodate all the requests.
We were not successful in meeting everyone’s needs nor will we ever be, but the point is we are trying, and are making several changes again this year after consulting with town officials, the arts and activities committee, and local business owners.  I personally met with Danny from the Fat Pelican before Mr. Killough’s editorial was published and Danny and I were able to reach an agreement as to what would hopefully prevent the problems he experienced last year. He thanked me and said he thought it was a good event and that he made money out of it. I also met with Charlie of Charlie’s Subs and I listened patiently as he listed all of his concerns.  As a result, we will not be placing chain link fence or porta johns near his storefront.  We will be using town porta johns and they will be on the FEMA lot. 
The point I am making is that unless we are made aware of concerns we cannot address them.  Had I not personally reached out to both Danny and Charlie and talked to other business owners I would not have learned of these concerns. Speaking of local business owners, I need to make a public apology to the owner of the Silver Dollar for an unprofessional conversation I had with her recently.  I hope she will accept this apology. 
One final point that needs to be made is the charitable giving that has resulted from this event that specifically benefits Pleasure Island charities.  The Managing Editor in his editorial asked that the students consider focusing on a “true” charity event such as the Lo-Tide run.  Does that mean that Mr. Killough does not consider the Katie B Hines Senior Center a deserving charity?  Wing Fling made a $4000 donation to the Center in 2011.  Does he not consider the Federal Point Help Center a true charity?  Wing Fling donated $2000 to the Help Center in 2012.  There will be some skeptics who say that we cut our giving in half and that we will probably do so again this year.  What they do not know is that ticket sales were down last year primarily because of rainy weather, and our expenses were up; therefore, our overall charitable giving was down, but I challenge anyone to find another event in New Hanover County that is run primarily by hard working student volunteers that has raised over $250,000 in the past 16 years for charities including, The Child Advocacy Commission, UNCW General Scholarship Fund, The National Education Foundation, WRAAP (an after school program in Wilmington) plus the aforementioned Carolina Beach charities.
In closing, we understand that the town may never fully embrace the event but we ask at least for your tolerance one weekend a year so that we can continue to do good on many, many fronts.  I welcome your participation in the event as a sponsor or a restaurant and as always I welcome your feedback.
Lynnea Mallalieu,
Wing Fling Adviser/Organizer