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“The Legend of the Rose Buddies” monument is located at Mariners Wharf in Elizabeth City, North Carolina. There is a cement monument decorated with red roses, as well as multiple rose bushes at one of the entrances of the Wharf. The Rose Buddies, which started out at just some friends getting together for a nice afternoon, turned into something amazing, which helps to give Elizabeth City, North Carolina, my hometown, its nickname of the “Harbor of Hospitality”. Growing up and visiting the waterfront, I always say this cement monument with the “pretty flowers” on it and never thought much more of it, until a few years ago I took the time to read what was on it and it made me love my small town even more. Engraved on the monument it reads “The Legend of the Rose Buddies. On a Sunday afternoon in 1983, Fred L. Fearing and Joseph P. Kramer II, decided to host a gathering for the marines. Joe clipped his own rosebuds for the First Mates, while Fred supplied the refreshments. That first reception welcomed seventeen boats and their crews. The Rose Buddies tradition in the Harbor of Hospitality was born and spread by word of mouth up and down the Intra Coastal Waterway and beyond. When Joe died in 1987, his rose bushes were transplanted to Mariners Wharf Park. They continue to provide blooms for visitors and color for the “locals” who stop by the docks. Even as Fred reached his 90’s, he continued the work of the Rose Buddies. He was assisted by businesspersons and local organizations that donated goods and services and were key to preserving the efforts to welcome our nautical visitors. Fred Fearing died in 2007, a gregarious man who loved this community of his birth, and never tired of sharing his extraordinary knowledge of local history and legends with interested residents and seafarers. Commemorating the 25th Anniversary of the rose Buddies. Dedicated this 18th day of September 2008.

The first “Rose Buddies” were Fred Fearing and Joe Kramer. These two hosted an impromptu wine and cheese party for boaters visiting the recently completed docks at Mariners’ Wharf after church one evening. This event took place for the first time in September of 1983. Kramer clipped roses from his yard and Fearing collected wine, cheese, chips, and cups. 

At this first meeting there were 17 boats in attendance, and this is a tradition that continues today. Joe Kramer died in 1987 and his family had his rose bushes transferred to Mariners’ Wharf and Fearing continued to host parties for another 20 years. In August of 2018, the Museum of the Albemarle opened a banner exhibition celebrating 35 years of the Rose Buddies.

Visiting boaters are still welcomed with roses and wine and cheese parties. Rose Buddies can be spotted by their shirts and mariners caps. They are often seen coasting along the docks in the Rose Buddy golf cart, stopping to greet and chat with incoming boaters. The Rose Buddies are just your average citizen of Elizabeth City who are excited to share with visitors the perks of Elizabeth City.

The photos included were taken by myself, and they include the front, top, back, and sides of the monument. Also included is a picture of the rose bushes that were "transplanted" at Mariners Wharf, where the Rose Buddies had their gatherings.

Betts, Jack. The last of the Rose Buddies, October 23, 2007.

Mason, Scott, and Tom Normanly. “The Legend of the Rose Buddies,” September 23, 2008.

On Thursday, and By. “Rose Buddies of Elizabeth City, NC.” Livability, March 25, 2020.

“Stop and Smell the Roses: Celebrating 35 Years of the Rose Buddies.” Stop and Smell the Roses: Celebrating 35 Years of the Rose Buddies | Museum of the Albemarle, January 1, 1970.

Photos Taken by Michaela Drake