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Hundreds got into the swing of things for this year’s National Hammock Day

2 Aug

Hundreds got into the swing of things for this year’s National Hammock Day

They came from far and wide – one even from France – to celebrate National Hammock Day. Some were tourists to and some were residents of South Carolina’s Hammock Coast.

All of them came to celebrate a vibrant community with a name that invites rest, relaxation and rejuvenation.

Last month’s celebration – an annual national recognition day that local tourism officials also highlight each year – saw hundreds swing by the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce Visitor Center in the Litchfield community of Pawleys Island. The Friday, July 22, event highlighted the Hammock Coast, Georgetown County’s tourism moniker.

Attendees enjoyed free food, games, and tourism swag, including Hammock Coast-branded T-shirts and sunglasses. Several hundred registered for a chance to win one of four Pawleys Island rope hammocks donated by the Original Hammock Shop and other prizes.

Winners in the hammock drawing, which also included free passes to Brookgreen Gardens, were Sally Scholle, Tony Stauvs and Shari Harms with the grand prize going to Levi Szmurlo. That grand-prize package included a $50 gift certificate to Drunken Jack’s restaurant in Murrells Inlet, Hammock Coast golf balls, and a Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce tumbler.

In addition to the drawing, attendees could get free Hammock Coast T-shirts, Kona Ice frozen treats in a variety of flavors, Smoothie King fruit smoothies, and coffee and popcorn provided by Koffee Kamp.

Children — and adults, too — enjoyed treats from Kona Ice of Georgetown during the event. (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

The Long Bay Symphony was on hand with its popular touch-and-play instruments, allowing children and adults a chance to get instructions from music professionals. New York Life provided free Child IDs.

Beach chairs, umbrellas and canopies were provided by two of the Hammock Coast’s busiest and best beach-centric members: Cabana Boy Beach Services and Seaside Chairs and Umbrellas. There were also mascots there: Scrubby from Scrubby’s Car Wash and Forest the Squirrel, representing the Georgetown County Parks and Recreation Department.

 “Celebrating National Hammock Day with residents and visitors every year is nothing but fun for our staff,” said Beth Stedman, president and CEO of the Georgetown County Chamber. “We love showcasing our community and the day set aside to highlight the hammock — the namesake of our county’s tourism moniker. Nothing says rest and relaxation like a hammock and nothing says the perfect vacation more than the Hammock Coast.”

South Carolina’s Hammock Coast is one of the Palmetto State’s top tourist destinations. Generations of visitors have made Georgetown County their preferred vacation spot. Buoyed by its large selection of vacation rental condos and homes and wide-open, pristine beaches, the Hammock Coast routinely makes the best-of lists from various media outlets.

Members of the Longbay Symphony were on hand during the event with their popular touch-and-play instruments, allowing children a chance to play child-size violins. (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber)

In addition to the beaches, people are drawn to the Hammock Coast for its nature-centric pastimes such as fishing, boating, kayaking and more. Historic sites, such as Hopsewee Planation, the Kaminski House, Brookgreen Gardens and Atalaya Castle at Huntington Beach State Park, are also popular destinations for visitors of all ages.

Attendees of the Hammock Day event, who came from around the country and even from other parts of the world, shared some of their exciting experiences on the Hammock Coast. Severin Oudet, from Bordeaux, France, stopped by the Hammock Day event with his wife’s friend, Sally Scholle, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, who won one of the Pawleys Island rope hammocks.

They found out about the event on the beach that morning with South Carolina United Turtle Enthusiasts (SCUTE), from whom they learned about inventorying and relocating Loggerhead sea turtle nests.

“We come here on a somewhat-regular basis. We love the coastline, and we think it has a lot to offer,” Oudet said. “If you’re into nature, there is a lot to explore.”

Anne Bessant, the SCUTE member that told Oudet about the event, lives in the North Litchfield community. She was also at the Hammock Day event and said one of the nests Oudet had the chance to see “hatched out” the week before, so they waited three days to do an inventory when they cleaned out the discarded turtle egg shells and found three live baby turtles in the nest.

“We put them on the beach and watched them go into the ocean,” Bessant said. “We also had a new nest, #59, and we were thrilled. We had to move that nest and section it off.”

Severin Oudet, from Bordeaux, France, right, stopped by the Hammock Day event with his wife’s friend, Sally Scholle, from Chapel Hill, North Carolina, left. SCUTE member Anne Bessant, center, lives in the North Litchfield community. (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber)

Oudet said the experience taught him a lot about sea turtles.

“I think they were very educational,” he said of the SCUTE members. “It was nice that they were so welcoming and to really address the public. It made us like ambassadors to the turtles, as far as being respectful.”

Oudet described the Hammock Coast as “unique terrain.”

“We don’t have turtles or alligators (in France) unless you go to a zoo,” Oudet said. “It is just an amazing coastline and I think you do a great job at preserving it.”

He said he enjoyed a recent visit to Hobcaw Barony, near Georgetown, where he learned about the Baruch family, who owned Hobcaw Barony and donated it to the state as a nature preserve; Gilbert du Motier, Marquis de Lafayette, a French aristocrat and military officer who fought in the American Revolutionary War; and Theodosia Burr Alston, who was the daughter of Aaron Burr, the third vice president of the United States, and was lost at sea after a brief stay in Georgetown.

“There is a lot of French-related history here,” Oudet said. “It is history that touches not only Americans, but also Europeans. We even … visited the grave of Joseph Alston, the husband of Theodosia.”

He added that he also enjoys visiting Huntington Beach State Park and Brookgreen Gardens when he comes to the Hammock Coast.

Emily and Tony Kosova of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, who were at the Hammock Day event, were in town to see their niece, Penelope Meyer, as a cast member in the play “The Sound of Music.” The night before was opening night at the Strand Theater in Georgetown.

“I was blown away by the performance, to be honest,” Emily Kosova said. “The theater itself is beautiful; it is small and quaint. It looks like it’s been renovated, and it is gorgeous.”

Chad Takach of North Litchfield, right, stopped by while riding bikes with his daughter, Emma Gray, 10, left, and her friend, Lula Grey Pate, 8. They were all enjoying a Kona Ice treat during the Hammock Day event. (Photo by Clayton Stairs/Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce)

She said her family is staying at True Blue condominiums on the Pawleys Island mainland for a week and found out about the Hammock Day event so they thought they would attend.

“We’ve had a great experience here, and we have really enjoyed stopping by to get T-shirts and enter the hammock drawing,” Emily Kosova said. “It has been really cool.”

Speaking of cool, Chad Takach of North Litchfield stopped by while riding bikes with his daughter, Emma Gray, 10, and her friend, Lula Grey Pate, 8. They were all enjoying a Kona Ice treat and Emma Gray even had her own Kona Ice cup that changed colors.

“We saw the Facebook post for the event today and decided to check it out,” Takach said. “Kona Ice is the perfect thing on a hot day like today, especially after a bike ride.”

The official Hammock Coast Visitor Center is located at 28 Wall St. in the Litchfield community of Pawleys Island and located just outside the gate access to the Litchfield By the Sea resort. The public is welcome to stop by Monday-Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Chamber also operates another Visitor Center in historic Georgetown at 531 Front St.

For more information about the Hammock Coast, visit www.HammockCoastSC.com or follow on Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest. Or call 843-546-8436.