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Beat-the-heat vacation snap wins August photo contest

Through the dog days of August, Farmers Branch resident John Holt spent his summer in Texas the same way everyone else did: sweating.

2023 was a scorcher — it was the third-hottest summer in the history of Dallas-Fort Worth. Holt needed to find some way to cool down and beat the heat.

For Holt, that meant leaving the state completely. A vacation photo he took of his family relaxing on a boat off the shores of North Carolina won the Fort Worth Report’s August photo contest titled “Beat The Heat.”

“Feels pretty damn good to officially hear that I was the champion last month,” Holt said, after a month-long campaign that involved getting family and friends to vote.

With 90-degree weather and humidity, North Carolina wasn’t much cooler than North Texas, Holt said. He and his family took a six-hour cruise on Onslow Bay to Cape Lookout, along the Atlantic Ocean.

“At least you have the water below you, and there was some breeze, which was nice,” Holt said. “So, it was a really fun day.”

A day that he needed to remember by having a photo taken.

His second cousin, Rob Morris, the owner of Lookout Cruises, snapped a photo of he and his wife, Keri, lying on nets attached to the boat. 

“Family means everything,” Holt said. “And for us, that’s a yearly tradition that we go to the beach in North Carolina.”

Holt grew up in Chapel Hill, North Carolina. He graduated from the University of Mississippi and moved to North Texas

The 35-year-old currently works as a public relations and content writer for Good Shepherd Episcopal School in Dallas. He lives with his wife, Keri.

At the end of an interview, Holt asked the Report if previous winners can win again. He said that it was good to know the answer is yes.

“I feel like I’m a competitive person,” Holt said. “If it’s something we have a chance of winning, I’m trying to go all in, certainly… I’m hoping that I can win another contest.”

Matthew Sgroi is a reporting fellow for the Fort Worth Report. Contact him at At the Fort Worth Report, news decisions are made independently of our board members and financial supporters. Read more about our editorial independence policy here. Read more about our editorial independence policy here.

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