Mount Airy prepping for 125th birthday


First Posted: 5/24/2009

Planning will soon get under way for a special occasion in Mount Airy: the citys 125th birthday.
Funding has been included in the municipalitys proposed budget for 2009-10 to celebrate the milestone that will be reached early next year.
Mount Airy was incorporated in February 1885, according to Commissioner David Beal, who informed fellow officials of the upcoming anniversary at a recent council meeting.
Beal explained Friday that he realized Mount Airys 125th birthday was approaching after launching some spruce-up work on a 1960s Mayberry squad car in conjunction with a project to improve the old city jail downtown, a local tourism site.
In seeking to have an insignia painted on the vehicle patterned after the Mount Airy Police Department emblem, he noticed that a patch used as a guide contained the date 1885, and he did the math.
Beal said he believes it is important to acknowledge the passing of a century and a quarter in Mount Airys history in some kind of official manner.
Mayor Jack Loftis agreed Friday.
At present, the mayor said he is working with Ann Vaughn, former head of the Mount Airy Visitors Center and now the director of the Gilmer-Smith Foundation, on another special observance related to local native Donna Fargo. It involves the designation of a portion of N.C. 103 in honor of Fargo, who grew up along that route near the Virginia line.
But after that the city will lay the groundwork for some type of 125th-anniversary celebration, Loftis said.
Well be making some plans fairly soon, he said. Weve got to get a committee together and let them start planning. The mayor added that only a small amount of funding is set aside for the observance, but activities including a parade likely will held.
Though he hatched the idea for special recognition of the 125th anniversary, Beal said he was unclear at this point what it should entail. Ive never been involved in one of these things and I have no idea, the South Ward commissioner said.
A massive slate of activities was planned when Mount Airy marked its 100th year of incorporation in 1985, but officials say the 125th anniversary logically will be celebrated on a smaller scale.
Still, 125 years is something to be happy about, according to the mayor, who says reaching that mark is a testament to the resiliency of Mount Airy and its people.
While we have had some difficulties, thats for sure, weve also had some positive things going on, Loftis said.
More than 90 years after its incorporation as a town, Mount Airy became a city on July 15, 1976, according to a local historical source.
Contact Tom Joyce at or at 719-1924.

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