Charleston’s Holiday Festival of Lights 2016


Every year Charleston lights up the town with millions of multicolored lights during the Holiday Festival of Lights.

This sparkling event is something we look forward to each and every year at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, and we highly recommended adding it to your calendar this holiday season.

There are many ways you can enjoy this fun and festive event. If the weather is cold, or if you’re juggling small children, we suggest taking the driving tour. The tour is 3 miles long and takes you through over 700 light displays.

If you want to really get into the holiday spirit, we recommended parking your car and participating in the festival’s family-friendly activities, shopping, food, entertainment, and more!

Here’s a sneak peak of some of the things you can enjoy at the festival:

  • Magnificent sculpture made from over 50 tons of sand
  • An up-close look at the lights via the holiday train
  • Mouth-watering treats from Santa’s Sweet Shoppe
  • Giant greeting cards created by local students
  • Riding the beautiful Victorian carousel

The Holiday Festival of Lights takes place at James Island County Park, located at 871 Riverland Drive, Charleston, SC 29412. And no need to worry about the weather. It’s open from November 11 to January 1 rain or shine.

Ready to enjoy a trip through the lights? Here’s everything else you need to know to plan your trip!

Festival Hours

  • Sunday – Thursday: 5:30 – 10:00 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday: 5:30 – 11:00 p.m.


  • 1-15 guests: $20 per vehicle, $15 per vehicle Monday-Thursday with donation*
  • 16-30 guests: $40 Monday-Thursday, $50 Friday-Sunday
  • 31+ guests: $100 Monday-Thursday, $150 Friday-Sunday


Monday – Thursday, get into the festival for only $15 per vehicle (1-15 guests) with the donation of a canned food item or dog/cat food to benefit the Lowcountry Food Bank.

 What’s your favorite holiday activity in Charleston? Comment below!

Charleston MOJA Arts Festival 2016



2016 marks Charleston’s 33rd year of hosting the MOJA Arts Festival. This festival was created to celebrate African-American and Caribbean art.

And if you live in the area, or are visiting The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction, we highly suggest that you check it out.

The festival runs from Thursday, September 29, through Sunday, October 9.

If you’re wondering where the festival gets its name, it comes from the word “Moja,” a Swahili word meaning “One.”

And it’s a perfect choice as one of the purposes of the festival is to celebrate harmony in the community.

This festival has a little something for everyone, including:

  • Visual arts
  • Classical music
  • Dance
  • Gospel
  • Jazz
  • Poetry
  • R&B music
  • Storytelling
  • Theatre
  • Children’s activities
  • Traditional crafts
  • Ethnic food

On top of all the events that take place in this festival, MOJA also has an educational outreach component in Charleston that consists of workshops in public schools and senior outreach in senior citizen homes.

Each day of the festival holds new and exciting activities, so be sure to check out the website and event calendar so you can pick a day filled with activities you will love.


Do you have a favorite yearly event in Charleston? Comment below!

The Best Charleston Parks


Nothing beats a nice long walk, picnic, or game of Frisbee in the park on a beautiful sunny day.

And, boy, are we at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction glad to be located in Charleston, a city full of beautiful parks.

Whether you already live here or are planning a visit sometime this year, we hope you’ll take some time to check out a few of our favorite parks in town.

Take a look at our favorites…

Angel Oak Park

 Angel Oak Park is home to one of the most stunning Angel Oak trees you’ll ever see.

This tree is believed to be hundreds of years old. In fact, it’s one of the oldest oaks known in existence.

Aside from its majestic oak tree, this park has plenty of space to go for a walk and has built-in picnic tables. Public restrooms are located on the property.

This park is open Monday-Saturday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Admission is free.

For more info, visit the park’s website here.

Washington Square Park

 Washington Square Park is one of Charleston’s more historic parks. Its historic location is also home to Charleston City Hall.

The park is filled with mature oak trees, which makes it a nice shady place to take a walk or enjoy a good book.

As you walk through the park, you’ll also notice elegant floral displays which are changed throughout the year.

This park is in a public location and is always open to visits. No admission is necessary to visit.

For more info, visit the park’s website here.

Waterfront Park

If you love the water, Waterfront Park is a stop you’ll want to put on your list.

It’s located directly on the harbor, so you can grab a seat on a bench and enjoy the sailboats coming and out of the marina.

On the park property is a beautiful fountain. On hot days, you’ll see children running through the water and having fun.

This 8-acre park is located near the market and other great shopping areas.

Whether you’re shopping, or just stopping by to view the beautiful flower gardens, this is a park you want to make sure you get to.

For more info, visit the park’s website here.

James Island County Park

 If you’re up for an adventure, James Island County Park is the place for you.

It spans over 600 acres and is open for fishing, crabbing, hiking, biking, paddle boarding, kayaking, and more.

This park is also awesome for dog lovers, as it contains a completely enclosed dog park.

It’s only a $2 fee per person to enter the park.

For additional fees you can access the park’s campground, climbing facility, water park, disc golf course, and paddle boats.

Make a full day of it or camp out for the weekend at this park.

For more info, visit the park’s website here.

Summer Surgery Tips and Suggestions from Nurse Chris

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Chris in Ireland

Our nurse, Chris Murakami, just returned from a wonderful vacation in Ireland and wanted to share some tips about sun and surgery with our readers!

Planning surgery during the summer months?

Here are some things to remember during vacations, trips to the beach, boating, or simply working in the yard.

It is very important to avoid becoming sunburned before surgery. It is quite possible you could be asked to postpone your surgery depending on the nature of the procedure and the degree of sunburn.  Many of our patients put a great deal of research and planning into scheduling surgery.  Making travel plans, arranging time off of work, and obtaining care givers is no easy task!  We’re here to help you keep your surgery plan on track.

Avoiding sun exposure immediately after surgery is equally important.  You are more likely to burn during that time period especially in areas that blood flow has been disrupted. Keep in mind your sensitivity to heat can be diminished so you might not realize that you are getting burned.

Submerging your body in standing water should not be done until all incisions are completely healed.  This typically takes as long as three to four weeks, but be sure that there is no open or draining area nor any remaining sutures before considering that summer swim.   There are micro-organisms out there that can cause infections and your intact skin normally provides a natural barrier.   You should always avoid the ocean, lakes, rivers, pools, hot tubs etc. whenever you have open wounds – surgical or traumatic.

As far as long term care, try to avoid sun exposure to both your incision lines and any bruised areas. The sun can turn your scars and skin dark if they are exposed before they completely heal or mature. This process typically takes about a year to happen for the surgical scar.  A good guideline is to wait until the scar is no longer pink before considering sun exposure.

Having surgery does not mean that you can’t enjoy the remainder of your summer!   Just be prepared. Stay in the shade as much as possible.  Hats, umbrellas, and sunblock are a must during pre and post-surgical weeks.  And remember, when you are out in the sun and heat, always stay well hydrated! – Have a great Summer! – Chris

Do you have a summer surgery tip to share with our readers?

Congratulations to the Class of 2016!!

Grad cap red

I’ve been in a bit of a stupor the past few weeks as my youngest is getting ready to graduate from high school and preparing to leave home for college in the fall.  It alternates between rambling on and on about scholarships, financial aid, school choices, to just standing, staring off into space not able to speak because it’s a bit surreal that my baby girl is ready to make her place in the world.  Not to mention, the constant feeling of being on the edge of a very long, very ugly cry.

Given that my current situation is what’s weighing on my mind right now it seemed natural to ask graduates what they want their parent to know and how that might differ from what the parents want their student to know.   I posed this question to a group of college bound seniors who will graduate June 1, 2016.  Some answers were funny, some sweet and reassuring but all in all do address some of our concerns as parents.

What is the one thing that you would like to tell your parent to help ease their mind and assure them that you are prepared and ready to go to college? 

– Parker also assures his parents that “I’m not going to spend all my study hours playing video games! I promise!  God!”

-Terry knows that “Uber saves lives.”  Smart boy!

-J.J. says beer tastes gross and Parker adds that it goes through your system too quickly.

-Alexandria appreciates learning some basic life skills!  “Thanks for teaching me how to do laundry!”

-Zachary tells us that his parent already knows his future college roommate.  We’re assuming that is a positive statement.  

-Simply stated Eli says “I got this!”

-Anizia thanks her parent for helping her become a mature, independent adult capable of taking care of herself.

-Ashton acknowledges the hard work it takes to be a parent. “I appreciate all the hard work and endless nights towards making me become the successful young lady I am today and I will not underestimate my gift and knowledge to surpass all obstacles.

-Bailey affirms that her parents have taught her well and helped her make good decisions and now she knows how to make good decisions on her own.

-Jonathan shares this “It’s time to for me to grow up in a new and unknown world. You have prepared me for this since I was being held in your arms. But it’s now time to find who I truly am. I will make mistakes, I guarantee it. But it’s you who has taught me to learn from every experience. So thank you.”

-Maddie adds with a smile emoticon that she is ready for this time in her life and reminds her parents that she will always be their little girl.

There are conversations that we parents all want to have with our graduates but somehow don’t seem to be able to do so without coming off as overbearing, nagging, or simply more involved than we are desired to be at this point in our students lives.  So, graduating seniors, bear with your parents as we try to make sure we have taught you and told you everything that we feel like you need to know in the next few months before you leave home.

Your well-being and success in college is our only concern.  We just need to know that you are going to be okay.   We need to know that we did a good job raising you and that you are able to make good, intelligent, and safe choices.   We need to know that you understand that you are going to college for a purpose, not just a party.  Have fun but be smart and keep your studies your number one priority.  We need to know that you feel equipped to handle most of the things we have always done for you – kept your schedule posted on the fridge, given reminders of your commitments, emphasized the importance of your schoolwork, handled your finances, filled out your forms, washed your laundry.    We don’t want you to be scared of new experiences.  We want you to make lifelong friends and we want to be confident in your ability to do so.

Ultimately, we hope you come out of your college experience a happy, productive adult ready to embark on a career that is meaningful to you and allows you to support yourself in the manner that you desire.   That is all. – Gail


Best Charleston Places to Bring Your Pup


Photo credit: Eric Sonstroem

Your beloved pup stays at home when you go to work, so it’s a terrible feeling leaving them at home when you’d like to go meet up with friends.

Luckily, Charleston has come to the rescue, yet again!

Why not go to places where you can catch up with friends and spend time with your furry friend?

Here’s our list of top dog-friendly places in Charleston:

Yappy Hour

You and your pup deserve a break! Enjoy live music and beverages at Yappy Hour—located at the James Island County Park Dog Park. Only $1 per person for park admission or free for Gold Pass Members. Beverages are available for purchase on-site. Helpful to know: outside food and drinks are prohibited.

Click here to find out more on dates and times.

James Island County Park

Looking for a dog park to meet up with your other canine-loving friends? James Island County Park’s dog park is a beautiful area to allow your pet to go off-leash and socialize with other four-legged friends. The park features a large lake where your pup can cool off in the heat.

Make sure you check out these dog park rules before you go.

Grab a bite with your dog

Don’t want to leave your canine friend at home to go out to dinner? Charleston boasts a long list of restaurants with patios that are a perfect place to bring your pup! You might be surprised who’s on the list. Restaurants like Crave Kitchen and Cocktails, FUEL Cantina, and, of course, the local dog-friendly favorite, Parson Jack’s café.

View the whole list of dog-friendly restaurants here.

Have a Beach Day at Sullivan’s Island

Spend the morning allowing your dog to enjoy the fresh air and water at the beach! The beach at Sullivan’s Island allows pet owners to bring their dogs off-leash from 5 a.m. until 10 a.m. Although no dogs are allowed on the beach between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m., leashed pets are allowed from 6 p.m. to 5 a.m.

Important note: you will need to get a license for your dog at City Hall to participate in many of these opportunities.

We’d love to hear about your favorite pup-friendly places on our Facebook page.

Best Sunsets in Charleston

Charleston sunset

With Charleston’s unique location, we are known for many things—the beaches, the history, and the delicious food.

But there’s one thing that comes with our amazing waterfront locations and superb restaurants: absolutely stunning sunsets.

But where are the best places to take in the view? There are just SO many options to choose from.

Don’t fret—below we’re sharing our top 5 picks for the best spots to watch Charleston sunsets.

Vendue Inn Rooftop Bar

This is the king of amazing sunset rooftop views, and we’re apparently not the only one to think so. The Charleston City Paper has awarded the Vendue Inn Rooftop Bar the “Best Rooftop Bar” since 2007. While enjoying lunch, dinner, or innovative cocktails, overlook the beautiful, sweeping view of the Charleston Harbor, Waterfront Park, and The Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge.

The Battery

The Battery Park boasts stunning views of southern mansions, cannons, cannon balls, oak trees, palmettos, statues, a gazebo, and incredible views of Fort Sumter, Castle Pinckney, and the Sullivan Island Lighthouse. Take a stroll, or bring a picnic and relax while taking in the sunset—the perfect way to unwind after a stressful day.

Sunrise Park

Sunrise Park, also known as Melton Peter Demetre Park, is located on James Island and offers spectacular views of Charleston Harbor and the Arthur Ravenel Bridge. Don’t let the name fool you—there aren’t just breathtaking sunrise views, but also incredible sunset watching as well.

Red’s Ice House

Red’s Ice House is a classic to catch a great sunset. With two locations at Shem Creek and in the Bohicket Marina, you’re offered 2 amazing views to enjoy a cocktail while watching the sunset. The laidback atmosphere and delicious food (the buffalo shrimp is a must) make this a definite top spot on our list.

Pavilion Bar

The Pavilion Bar is an absolute oasis. This location boasts a view of historic Charleston, a gorgeous cascading pool, a truly spectacular atmosphere, and, of course, a pristine sunset-watching location. The view is everything you hope for in Charleston, and we promise it will not disappoint!

Do you agree with our top sunset spots? Comment below.

Charleston Summer Checklist

Battery Park in Charleston, SC

I know we’re a little biased, but Charleston really IS the best city ever! With beautiful beaches, some of the best restaurants in the world, a happening nightlife, and a rich history, The Holy City has something for everyone.

Our team at The Center for Natural Breast Reconstruction decided to make this summer the best yet and enjoy all our city has to offer. We got together and came up with our ultimate Charleston summer checklist. Here’s to sunshine, good food, and great memories!

Enjoy the Battery

This one is a Charleston staple. Walk or bike the scenic Battery, and take in the beautiful view of the harbor. Battery Park, otherwise known as White Point Gardens, is lined with beautiful antebellum homes and historic statues and cannons, and is the perfect place to cool off in the hot summer months.

Beach Hop

We are lucky to have 5 beautiful beaches—why just pick one? Make it a mission this summer to go to each at least once. Pack a cooler, set up the umbrella, and make sure to drop by Poe’s on Sullivan’s Island to take a break from the sun and have a burger!

Golf at Muni

The City of Charleston Golf Course, also referred to as “The Muni,”  is an area favorite for golfers. With over 60,000 rounds played annually, its reputation as a golf destination is growing quickly!

Visit the Aquarium

Our city is lucky enough to be the home to the South Carolina Aquarium. It’s the home to South Carolina’s only hospital for sick and injured sea turtles. Tour the sea turtle hospital, and find out more about the incredible care that goes into rehabilitating these endangered species. Make sure to check out the fun, new exhibits, such as the Shark Shallows, as well!

Tour the Charleston Tea Plantation

The Charleston Tea Plantation is one of the few places in America to grow its own tea. Take a tour of the tea factory, and learn about the history behind the 127 acres on Wadmalaw Island, and taste different teas. The plantation also offers an educational trolley tour so guests can explore the scenic grounds.

Also on site is the Irvin House Vineyards, which produces wine and Firefly vodka. Stop in for a tasting!

Explore the Gardens at Middleton Place

A National Historic Landmark, Middleton Place is the home to America’s Oldest Landscaped Gardens—and it is b-e-a-utiful! Take a tour of the grounds, dine at the restaurant, explore the house museum, or even stay at the inn.

Dine at HUSK Restaurant

There are so many amazing restaurants in Charleston, but this one is hands-down one of our favorites. HUSK Restaurant lives by the motto “If it doesn’t come from the South, it’s not coming through the door.” The restaurant takes a modern, playful approach to Southern cooking. The menu changes daily to be able to incorporate local food, but let us tell you—everything is to die for.

Want to add your Charleston favorites to this list? Share below!

Surgery Day (and other tidbits)

hospital sign

By:  Richard M. Kline Jr., M.D

My wife took me to the hospital at 6 a.m., and I sat in the preoperative waiting room with the other surgery patients. Eventually my name was called, and I was taken by a female technician to a room to be weighed. I wanted to say “NOT FAIR!” when she weighed me with clothes, shoes, and cell phone, but I realized it didn’t really matter. Next she took me to a private preoperative room, handed me a gown, and told me to take off “everything”, use the bathroom, and put on the gown. This was definitely unsettling, as I’m not used to taking off my clothes in front of strangers, but I realized I was going to have to comply if I was going to get through this. As I put on the gown, I couldn’t help but think about Jack Nicholson with his butt sticking out of his hospital gown in “Something’s Gotta Give.” After I had changed, the young lady returned, and directed me to lie on the stretcher. She then announced she had to “remove my hair,” and mentioned that others would be coming to check her work. I was a little surprised because plastic surgeons have learned that there is really no need to remove hair before surgery, but the last thing I wanted to do at this point was upset the routine. As I lay there trying to be calm while she trimmed my lower abdomen and groin with clippers, she chatted pleasantly, asking at one point if I wanted the “full Brazilian wax.” After she finished, her female supervisor came in, lifted my gown and inspected the job, then told her to trim another inch of hair off the bottom.  After this was done, I got a short reprieve, after which a third woman came in and “checked my prep” again. At this point, I was starting to get over being inspected, and just wanted to move forward.

Another nurse, the self-proclaimed “i.v. specialist,” entered. She was very bubbly and chatty (perhaps even more so after I told her I was terrified of needles). She complained about me grinding my teeth when the local anesthetic went in my hand, but after that I didn’t even feel the i.v. catheter go in, which was a relief. At that point I thought I was safe, but then she pulled out a syringe, smiled, and said “Lovenox!” That needle went into the left side of my freshly prepped abdomen. I didn’t realize until then that Lovenox burns going in. Ouch.

At last I was prepped, and my wife was allowed in. What a relief to see her again! Soon the anesthesiologist came in to see me. I’d never met him, but I knew my wife worked with him frequently and thought highly of him. He was very calm and matter-of-fact, exactly what I wanted. The surgeon then entered for the final preoperative visit, confirmed the procedure, and marked the surgical site. He was calm and reassuring.

Before they wheeled me from the preoperative room to the operating room, they gave me a dose of i.v. Versed, to “take the edge off.” This was a good thing, as the process of being wheeled down to the O.R. in a stretcher was, for me anyway, surreal. I’m usually the one pushing people down these hallways – this was too weird! As the team wheeled me down the hall I said “this is a very different vantage point from down here,” and they all agreed. Once we got in the OR, they had me move myself from the stretcher onto the table. The oxygen mask went over my mouth and nose, and the last thing I remember was the slight burn of the Propofol anesthetic going into my hand and wrist.  —Lights out—

(Part 3 of this series will post April 23)

6 To-Dos for Your Charleston Staycation

fountain in charleston

Okay, so you’re a little bummed that you’re not jet setting somewhere else for vacation this year.

Not to worry.  People flock to Charleston for their vacations—so why not plan your very own staycation?

The Holy City has so much to offer. From the history and culture of Lowcountry to the beaches and restaurants, there are plenty of activities and fun to experience right here in town!

Here are  6 to-do’s on your Charleston staycation:

Step away from the housework

Drop the broom right this very second! Not leaving for vacation does not mean you should fill it with your to-do list. You’ve earned this time off. It’s time to relax and rejuvenate!

Go back in time

Who says you can’t be a tourist in your own town? Take a historical tour and learn more about the fascinating city we live in! Take a two-hour walking tour of Charleston’s Historic District with experienced guides. Tours depart from The Shops of Historic Charleston Foundation.

Catch up on reading

You know that list of books you’ve been meaning to read? Curl up with a cup of tea and read your heart out! Or stake out a live oak tree covered in Spanish moss to read under. Heck, read from sunup to sundown—it’s vacation after all!

Try a new activity

Experience our beautiful city from a new perspective! Sign up for a Stand Up Paddleboarding or kayak tour and enjoy the outdoors. Trying new activities and exploring new areas is a great way to spend your staycation.

Catch a tour

The Charleston Tea Plantation is one of the few places in America to grow its own tea. Take a tour of the tea factory and learn about the history behind the 127 acres on Wadmalaw Island and taste different teas. The plantation also offers an educational trolley tour so guests can explore the scenic grounds.

Also on site is the Irvin House Vineyards, which produces wine and firefly vodka. Stop in for a tasting!

Beach day

We are lucky enough to have 5 beautiful beaches, aren’t we? Make a day of it with your family or friends! Get out early before the crowds, pack a cooler, set up the umbrella, and make sure to drop by Poe’s on Sullivan’s Island to take a break from the sun!

Are you a local? Share how you’d like to spend your Charleston staycation on our Facebook page!