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Submitted by WWAY on Thu, 02/28/2008 - 4:45am.

Each year on the first Sunday in March, participating area attractions open their doors to New Hanover County residents free of charge. This year 30 area attractions along with special guests, will welcome and honor local citizens who live in New Hanover County on Sunday, March 2. It’s a way for the attractions to thank residents for their support and familiarize them with area tourism assets. Feedback from citizens and attractions participating in the event has been consistently positive. Last year 29 attractions reported combined attendance of 13,000 “hometown tourists.”

In addition to attractions, this year’s Riverfront activities from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. include celebrity guests who will greet residents, sign autographs and provide photo opportunities on the Riverwalk (weather-permitting) at the foot of Water & Market streets. This year’s special guests include musician/storyteller John Golden (2-3 p.m.), Azlaea Belles (1-3 p.m.), and mascots from Wilmington’s professional sports teams: "Sledge" (Wilmington Hammerheads Professional Soccer team, 1-3 p.m.) and “Salty Dawg” (Wilmington Sea Dawgs professional basketball team, 1-3p.m.). Free balloons will be provided to children at the Riverfront Visitor Information Booth from Noon-3 p.m.

Hours for individual attractions do vary and restrictions may apply. While most attractions will offer free admission only to New Hanover County residents, some may be open to all guests. Residents interested in taking advantage of this one-day only free event are strongly advised to bring proper I.D. (driver’s license, etc.) that proves residence within New Hanover County. Non-county residents are advised to carefully check the participants’ list and to call individual attractions for restrictions. A listing of participating attractions with hours, rules, and eligibility are available at the Visitor Information Center located in the old County Courthouse at 24 N. Third Street or you can call 341-4030. Or you can access the list of participants, descriptions and Hometown Tourist gift bag registration information online at www.capefearcoast.com/hometown.

“BE A TOURIST IN YOUR OWN HOMETOWN” APPRECIATION DAY

LIST OF PARTICIPATING ATTRACTIONS & EVENTS:

*Sunday – March 2, 2008

Airlie Gardens, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 300 Airlie Rd, Wilmington, 798-7700. Guided tours available at 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Stroll through the winding paths of this century-old garden by the sea. NHC RESIDENTS ONLY

Arboretum at New Hanover County Co-op Ext., 8 a.m.-6 p.m., 6206 Oleander Dr., Wilmington, 798-7660. Explore 6+ acres of demonstration and trial gardens to discover the newest and best plants for area landscapes & gardens.

Battleship North Carolina, 8 a.m.-5 p.m., Hwys.17/74/76/421, on the Cape Fear River across from historic Downtown Wilmington, 251-5797. Discover how this heroic Ship and brave crew fought in every major naval offensive in the Pacific of WWII. This is an historic adventure you don’t want to miss! Last boarding 4pm; closes 5pm.

Bellamy Mansion Museum, 1-4 p.m., 503 Market St, Wilmington, 251-3700. Visit the formal areas and kitchen in the basement of the mansion, hear historical information about the original slave quarters and its restoration in the rear garden & peruse the gift shop. NHC RESIDENTS ONLY

Burgwin-Wright Museum House, 1-4 p.m., 224 Market St., Wilmington, 762-0570. The house will *not* be open; however, visitors may tour the historic gardens and visit the Colonial kitchen and the former jail. A self-guided garden tour is available, with layout, historic facts, plant identification, etc.

Cameron Art Museum, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m., 3201 S. 17^th St., Wilmington (Independence Blvd and 17^th St. intersection) 395-5999. View ongoing exhibitions, including /BIG, little /and /Measure of All Things: The Human Scale/. At 3:00 pm, enjoy a gallery talk with Andy Cobb, a local metal artist. Experience our exhibitions through the eyes of an artist!

Cape Fear Museum of History and Science, 1-5 p.m., 814 Market St., Wilmington, 798-4350. Discover the history, science and cultures of the Lower Cape Fear. Visit the Museum's newest exhibit - OCEAN: explore. discover. - an interactive, marine science experience that invites visitors to discover cutting-edge ocean research projects and explore our relationship with the ocean. The multimedia, hands-on exhibit - collaboration between the Museum and UNCW Center for Marine Science - features leading research projects in the fields of marine exploration, biotechnology, coastal erosion and commercial fishing.

Capt’n Bill’s Backyard Grill, Noon-9 p.m., 4240 Market St. (behind “17” North Shopping Ctr.), Wilmington, 762-0173. Free volleyball. Grill will be open with food & drink specials.

Carolina Beach Lake Park, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., Atlanta & Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach. Wheel Fun Rentals will offer free paddle boat rentals. 910-617-9793.

Carolina Beach State Park, 8 a.m.-7 p.m., State Park Rd, Carolina Beach, 458-8206. Bring picnic, fishing supplies. Explore nature trails, pier, visitor ctr. and more. (Boat ramp access/campsite rentals not included.) NHC RESIDENTS ONLY

Carolina Coastal Adventures, 9 a.m.-Noon, 103 Winner Ave, Carolina Beach, 458-9111. Complimentary “Intro to Kayaking” Paddling Clinics & Kayak Demos. Advance reservations required by March 1 . Space Limited. Ask for Angela. NHC RESIDENTS ONLY

Fat Tony’s Downtown Ghost Story-telling, Noon-6 p.m., 131 N. Front St, Wilmington, 343-8881. Get a “taste” of the Haunted Pub Crawl and hear eerie tales that will both shiver ye timbers and make ye laugh out loud; starting at noon and occurring on the hour every hour with the last one at 6pm.

Federal Point History Center, 1-4 p.m., 1121-A North Lake Park Blvd, Carolina Beach, 458-0502. Enjoy exhibits & audio-visual presentations portraying periods in the Federal Point community, including pre-historic, colonial, Civil War and development of Carolina-Kure Beaches and Seabreeze as tourist attractions. Refreshments.

Fort Fisher State Historic Site-Civil War Fort, 8 a.m. - 5 p.m., Hwy. 421 Kure Beach, NC, 458-5538. Self-guided tours walking trails around the grounds.

Ft. Fisher State Recreation Area, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., 1000 Loggerhead Road-off US 421, Kure Beach near Aquarium, 458-5798. Visitor center, free access to the 4WD beach and 4-mile stretch of undeveloped beach for shell seekers, bird watchers. Must display valid NHC drivers license. NHC RESIDENTS ONLY

Ghost Walk of Old Wilmington, Meets at Cape Fear Riverwalk at Market & Water Sts., Wilmington, 794-1866. Guided tours start at 6:30pm only. Reservations are required and will be on a first come, first served basis. Guide will take larger than normal groups and the tour will be somewhat abbreviated. Space is limited. NHC RESIDENTS ONLY

Greenfield Grind Skate Park, 1-5 p.m., Burnett Blvd, behind Parks & Rec offices, Wilmington, 362-8222. Participants get free admission between 1-5pm. NOTE: *All participants REQUIRED to wear helmet & pads*.

Halyburton Park, 4099 17th St., Wilmington. 341-0075. Take a hike or ride your bike through the 58-acre tract of land comprised of gently rolling sandhills, wet pine flatwoods and limesink depressions ponds and discover the many plants and animal species living here. Park is open daily during daylight hours.

Hollywood Location Walk of Old Wilmington, Meets at Cape Fear Riverwalk at Market & Water Sts., Wilmington, 794-7177. Guided tours start at 1:00pm only. Reservations are required and will be on a 1st come, 1st served basis. Guide will take larger than normal groups and the tour will be somewhat abbreviated. Space is limited. NHC RESIDENTS ONLY

Hugh MacRae Park & Nature Trail, 8 a.m.-Midnight, Oleander & S. College Rd., Wilmington, 798-7181. Playgrounds (5-12 year old playground is lighted), lighted tennis courts, athletic fields, picnic areas, nature trails, etc. Free everyday (except for shelter, horse ring, baseball fields and garden rentals). Baseball fields must be reserved in advance. Walk the *new* 1.55 mile trail right in the park or visit the Hugh MacRae Nature Trail located across the street behind the New Hanover Co. Senior Ctr.

Jungle Rapids Family Fun Park, 1-4 p.m., 5320 Oleander Dr., Wilmington, 791-0666. Offering a choice of one (1) of the following activities to each participant: 1-free round of Jungle Golf -*OR-* 1-free go-kart ride -*OR*- 1-free wall climb.

Latimer House Museum – Lower Cape Fear Historical Society, 1-4 p.m., 126 South 3rd St., Wilmington, 762-0492. Victorian house with period furnishings, artwork, family portraits, and garden open.

NEARBY: Moores Creek National Battlefield, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Hwy 210, Currie – 20 miles from Wilmington, 283-5591. Park rangers will offer guided tours at 3pm. Musket and blacksmithing demonstrations all day. Also a Colonial medicine program at 1pm. Park features a newly renovated museum, film and bookstore. Experience the pivotal 1776 battle that ended British hopes for an early victory in the South and was a major step towards declaring independence in July.

Old Books on Front Street Storytelling, 1-4 p.m. 22 N.Front St,Wilmington, 763-4754. Storyteller, Scott Davis, celebrates times past with stories steeped in the rich history of the Cape Fear area. Great family fun. Storytimes: 1pm, 2pm & 3pm.

Screen Gems Studio Tours, 10 a.m., Noon & 2 p.m. 1223 N. 23rd St, Wilmington, 343-3433. Take a guided tour of the movie studio lot, soundstages, and screening room! Tours meet at the studio gate promptly at stated times. Limit 50 per tour—first come, first served. Call 343-3433 with questions. We hope to see you on the tour!

UNCW Arboretum Campus, daylight hours, 601 S. College Rd., Wilmington, 962-3107. Explore this institutional arboretum campus with plant identification signs. Three areas are of particular interest: "The Heritage Garden” at the front quadrangle; “The Campus Commons” in the center of campus; and “The Bluethenthal Nature Preserve,” located off Price Drive behind the University Union.

Wheel Fun Rentals, 10 a.m.-2 p.m., 107 Carolina Beach Ave. N, Carolina Beach, 617-9792. Free bicycle & specialty product rentals. NHC RESIDENTS ONLY

Wilmington Ice House, 1-4 p.m., 7201 Ogden Business Lane (next to Ogden Park off of Market Street), 686-1987. Free public skate admission. [Rental fee if you need skates]

Wilmington Trolley, Noon-4 p.m. Downtown Wilmington. 763-4483. The trolley will offer free shuttle service between the participating attractions in the downtown area. This is shuttle service only, not tours.

Wrightsville Beach Museum of History, 1-5 p.m., 303 W. Salisbury St, Wrightsville Beach, 256-2569. Explore permanent exhibitions and revolving exhibitions on history and nature.

NEW HANOVER COUNTY I.D. REQUIRED FOR LISTINGS INDICATING “NHC RESIDENTS ONLY”. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON HOURS OF OPERATION AND RESTRICTIONS, PLEASE CONTACT THE INDIVIDUAL ATTRACTIONS. IN CASE OF RAIN, CALL ATTRACTIONS TO CONFIRM OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES. LIST OF PARTICIPANTS CAN BE DOWNLOADED ONLINE AT www.capefearcoast.com/hometown.

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