>> Corolla

Watch for Me NC in Corolla

  • Watch for Me NC participant since: 2015
  • Population: 500
  • Lead agency: Corolla Fire and Rescue








Photo: International students receive customized Watch for Me NC bags. Credit: Corolla Fire & Rescue

Corolla is a small seaside community located on the Outer Banks with a permanent population of around 500 people. During peak vacation months, tourists as well as a large number of international students and workers swell the town’s population considerably. In the peak tourist months there are upwards of 60,000 visitors per week. Many walk or bike for recreation or as a means for transportation. Collisions between motor vehicles and pedestrians and bicycles are frequent. Addressing safety issues for this seasonally large, transient population presents unique challenges, but Corolla and its partners creatively approached the problem through the Watch for Me NC program.

The lead agency for Watch for Me NC activities in Corolla is the Corolla Fire and Rescue Cares (CFR CARES) initiative. Given the large and frequent turnover of visitors in Corolla, CFR CARES has collaborated with partners who frequently interact with visitors. These include vacation property rental companies, local law enforcement, and around 100 local businesses that offered to display a placard with Watch for Me NC information. Some of the most helpful partners have been Food Lion and Harris Teeter, both of which employ several students, international workers, and people that commute via walking or biking. Currituck County has been another valuable partner. Collaboration between the Town of Corolla and the Currituck County has resulted in positive infrastructure upgrades.

Education and Enforcement Activities Conducted
Corolla has conducted outreach and education in a number of creative ways. CFR CARES and the Corolla Police Department have collaborated on enforcement activities that address proper road behavior among motorists, pedestrians, and bicyclists. The town, the Corolla Police Department, and CFR CARES organized a large Bike to School Day in 2016 that included helmet fittings, helmet and bike light giveaways, and bicycle safety talks. The town has also operated an information table with Watch for Me NC materials at 5K races that occur regularly in the area.

Corolla has worked hard to distribute Watch for Me NC materials through partnerships with local businesses and property rental companies. For example, the town presented Watch for Me NC information at an orientation event for more than 2,000 international students and summer employees. Moving forward, Corolla plans to kick off the annual Watch for Me NC program in conjunction with employee orientation sessions at major area employers.

Another important part of Corolla’s education activities is the town’s focus on homeowner associations. The town has reached out to roughly 10 different communities. As a result, many homeowners display placards with pedestrian and bicycle safety information on their refrigerators for visiting renters. This range of outreach efforts has helped Corolla to reach a large and diverse audience.

Key Outcomes

Due to the substantial efforts in Corolla, the Watch for Me NC message has reached thousands of residents and visitors. The Watch for Me NC program and CFR CARES have instigated conversations among many partners that are credited with positive infrastructure improvements in the area.

By working with the Currituck County Planning Department, Corolla now has a 4-mile greenway that provides pedestrian and bicycle access to Harris Teeter, Food Lion, and two shopping complexes. The partnership between the town and county was critical. CFR CARES Coordinator, Paula Pzik noted, “the county planner was instrumental in pushing the project through, and the county manager supported the project with town funds.”

Lessons Learned

  • Create a Core Group: If you are the lead agency or program coordinator, make sure you have at least three people you can count on.
  • Collaborate with Community Service Providers: Police and fire departments are crucial partners because they provide evidence of community services. It is especially important to be in constant contact with law enforcement.
  • Be Creative: Be creative in addressing your community’s unique safety challenges, reaching a broad audience, and in engaging diverse stakeholders.

Thanks to Paula Pyzik for contributing to the Watch for Me NC program and for the information presented in this community profile.