It’s likely that few North Carolinians can recall the circumstances that lead to Jockey’s Ridge becoming a state park on May 31, 1975.
The rolling sand dunes – spotted with vegetation – were on the verge of becoming a residential development until a woman by the name of Carolista Baum stopped the dismantlement of the dune system. In a daring attempt to halt progress on the new development, she stood in front of a bulldozer that was in the process of flattening Jockey’s Ridge.
Word of her courageous act quickly traveled, and an organization known as The People to Preserve Jockey’s Ridge was established. After two years of efforts by the group, the North Carolina Division of Parks and Recreation was asked to study the feasibility of making Jockey’s Ridge a state park… and the rest is history.
The tallest natural sand dune system in the eastern United States, Jockey’s Ridge will celebrate its 40th anniversary since officially becoming a state park this May.
Bruce Weaver, Vice President of Recreation at Kitty Hawk Kites had this to say about the state park: “Jockey’s Ridge is unquestionably one of the most beautiful places on the Outer Banks. People come from all over to visit the park, fly a kite, and learn to fly off the dunes on a hang glider.”
The park was the center for hang gliding on the East Coast in the 70s in 80s. The sport of hang gliding has grown substantially since then, however Jockey’s Ridge’s soft sand and smooth winds continue to make it an ideal place to learn how to hang glide in the United States.
“We [Kitty Hawk Kites] have a great relationship with the state park administration, and we certainly enjoy flying hang gliders off the dunes,” says John Harris, Founder of Kitty Hawk Kites. “There’s no reason to believe that Jockey’s Ridge won’t still be here on the Outer Banks for at least another 40 years.”
To commemorate the fourth decade of the area being managed by NC’s Division of Parks and Recreation, the public is invited to come enjoy live music by Mojo Collins, free Rita’s ice and hot dogs, a video of the 1975 dedication ceremony, and a children’s sand art class.
There will be limited edition t-shirts commemorating the event available for purchase at the celebration. The event takes place from 12:00 pm to 3:00 pm on Sunday, May 31 at the Jockey’s Ridge State Park Visitors Center (300 W Carolista Drive in Nags Head, NC). Admission is free!
For more information about the event, please visit the Friend’s of Jockey’s Ridge Facebook page.