NC contest winner finally gets her trip to South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®
Valeria “Eddye” Myers doesn’t answer phone calls if she isn’t certain who is on the other end, and as she waited in a long line at the bank on May 11, 2020, in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic, a strange number came across her phone.
She sent the caller to voicemail. If it’s a real person and it’s important, they’ll leave a message, Myers thought.
Before the Rocky Mount, North Carolina, resident reached the bank teller, a completely unexpected message came through.
The message was from Janean Flowe, an advertising and marketing representative with AAA Carolinas, who told Myers she had won a two-night trip to South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®, tickets to world-famous Brookgreen Gardens and a special piece of beach artwork.
Myers immediately returned the call – she had entered the contest a couple of months ago, after all – but was the caller serious? Was she really the winner of a vacation trip to the beach?
Yes, Flowe confirmed, Myers was, indeed, the winner, and the announcement of her win was published in the May-June 2020 issue of AAA’s Go Magazine, the sponsor of the Hammock Coast vacation getaway.
Myers could hardly contain her excitement.
“I’m calling everyone I know who gets AAA and they can’t find their magazine, so I had to wait until I got home,” she recalled. “Sure enough, I open up the magazine and there is my name.”
The 73-year-old Myers had won her first sweepstakes, but she was worried about the emerging pandemic and wondered if she would be happy to delay her visit to the Hammock Coast, a pristine collection of six coastal communities – Litchfield Beach, Pawleys Island, Murrells Inlet, southern Garden City, Georgetown and Andrews – in Georgetown County, South Carolina. The Hammock Coast is perfectly situated south of Myrtle Beach and north of Charleston.
“Eddye and I spoke, and, because it was in the very early weeks of the pandemic, she asked if she could delay the trip,” said Mark A. Stevens, director of tourism development for the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce and South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®. “Of course, I said yes. I wanted Eddye to enjoy her vacation at the best time for her!”
Tourism along South Carolina’s Hammock Coast® ended up experiencing an increase in tourism during 2020 and 2021, despite the pandemic. With most of its accommodations being vacation rentals — private homes and condos, all safely distanced from crowds — the Hammock Coast had just what vacationers wanted. And miles of clean, pristine beaches to boot.
For Myers, she delayed her trip for nearly 18 months — until September 2021. With an extra year to plan, Myers was able to coordinate with three friends who would accompany her to enjoy her good fortune.
Shelley Dandanell of Wilson, North Carolina, has been Myers’ best friend for 50 years, and for years, she has taken an annual trip with Janet Bean of Maine and Phyliss Giles of Easley, South Carolina, friends from their days as students at Wesleyan College.
The trip with her college friends typically rotates between their home states. The next junket was scheduled for Maine, but Myers had other ideas.
“I said, ‘Girls, we are going to the beach,’ ” she recalled.
On Sept. 21, 2021, the quartet fulfilled that goal, arriving in the Litchfield Beach community of Pawleys Island, South Carolina, greeted by Stevens and other members of the Chamber of Commerce staff.
The four friends were treated to an oceanfront condo at the Litchfield Beach & Golf Resort and free tickets to Brookgreen Gardens, which is celebrating its 90th anniversary this year as one of America’s premier sculpture gardens. Chamber staff members also provided each of the women with Hammock Coast T-shirts.
For two days, Myers and her friends enjoyed their stay at Litchfield Beach, which has been proclaimed by Tripadvisor as one of the best beaches in America.
The highlight of their vacation, however, was provided by Mother Nature, no less.
“Setting out on the balcony one night, there was a thunderstorm out over the ocean,” Myers recalled in a telephone conversation about what she and her friends will most remember. “We were watching the lightning flash behind the clouds and enjoying an incredible light show facing the beach.
“The morning after the storm, we did an early morning walk on the beach!”
That natural beauty, even when it’s far off the coast, is what makes the Hammock Coast special. The Atlantic Ocean taps the edges of the region’s acclaimed beaches and has been attracting vacationers for more than 200 years. The Hammock Coast is also home to salt and fresh water marshes and myriad rivers perfect for kayaking and fishing; Huntington Beach State Park, one of the most popular state parks in the nation and a Mecca for campers; rich American history highlighted in five museums and 66 Historic Register properties in the City of Georgetown; a scenic bylaw in the picturesque Plantersville community; and all topped off with some of the best dining options anywhere in the South.
Indeed, Myers said, she and her friends will have to return to South Carolina’s Hammock Coast® for a longer visit.
“We had a marvelous time,” she said. “We enjoyed our trip immensely. The accommodations were especially nice and comfortable, but I’d tell people to plan wisely because there is so much to see on the Hammock Coast!”
By Chris King for South Carolina’s Hammock Coast®
For more information about the Hammock Coast, visit www.HammockCoastSC.com.
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