Since it washed ashore during Hurricane Hugo, the iconic “Folly Boat” has been a mainstay on Folly Road welcoming visitors with congratulatory words, birthday wishes and everything in between. It has become a symbol of hospitality as endemic to Folly Beach as the pineapple is to the South.
Lately, though, the boat has also become an outlet for those who live on or near the Edge of America to express their solidarity for those in other parts of the country who are suffering.
In June, an eight-year-old girl named Amelia painted a simple visage on the Folly Boat encouraging everyone to “Spread Love” in honor of victims of the mass shooting in Orlando.
And on Friday, Folly Beach resident Elizabeth Baker rounded up a few friends to help her paint the boat in tribute to the police officers who lost their lives during the shootings in Dallas last week. “We found out about the officers slain in Dallas,” Baker told Count on 2 News. “We wanted to do something locally to show our support.”
The boat has since been painted over, but the sentiment remains for Baker and other-like minded individuals who hope their simple gesture — painting the Folly Boat black with a thin blue line and messages of support — makes its way to the Dallas Police Department and offers even the smallest semblance of comfort.
Over the course of the last few weeks, the boat has also been painted in remembrance of Philando Castile and Alton Sterling, both of whom were killed in police altercations recently. The Black Lives Matter organization has used the Folly Boat to call for systemic change within the penal system.
In the wake of all of these tragedies, Lowcountry residents mobilized on Sunday to walk a portion of the Ravenel bridge in a stand against violence. Held in the pedestrian lane after participants joined hands and hearts for a prayer at Waterfront Park, the “Let There Be Light Walk” brought together a diverse cross-section of the community — including many who call Folly home — as well as public service officers like local cops.
Organizer Krista Ely admits she was completely overwhelmed by the turnout. “The hearts of these people here are so pure and so genuine,” she told Live 5 News. “The resounding message that I think was overwhelming tonight was that it’s OK to have discussion, it’s OK to talk. There are topics such as race and racism that people don’t want to say. They don’t want to mention they think it’s taboo, but at this point where we are in the country, we’ve gotta make a change.”
As evidenced by the Let There Be Light Walk, support for police officers and support for victims of police brutality are not mutually exclusive — you can feel compassion for police officers and sadness over their senseless deaths in Dallas, and still want respect and justice for black lives.
If ever there was a place that embodies inclusivity and the celebration of differences, it’s Folly Beach. It is a seaside respite where people from varying credos, religious views, and walks of life come together in the beautiful, eclectic mix that makes Folly so colorful.
Our country is in the midst of dark times indeed, so it’s more important than ever for the spirit of Folly to shine brightly. Remember, kindness matters, and in the wise words of Maya Angelou, “Nothing can dim the light that shines from within.”