Downtown board reflects on parade, looks toward future
Jessica Johnson Staff reporter
Mount Airy Downtown met at city hall Tuesday to discuss plans for the upcoming fiddle crawl and reflect on the success of the Christmas parade, which board members agreed had more participants than ever before.
Ideas for improving the public restroom area were discussed, including the possibility of installing a public art display or mural. A mission statement was also approved by the board.
The vision statement for Mount Airy Downtown was unanimously approved by the board.
The final statement was approved, after members made a few changes: “Historic Downtown Mount Airy resides at the doorstep of the Blue Ridge Mountains where our urban living is enhanced by arts, entertainment, local wine, and our Traditional Music roots. Fostering a diverse variety of small businesses flavored with authentic dining experiences, Mount Airy is a true southern town with all the charm of Mayberry.”
The original plan for the vision statement included a slightly different beginning: “Historic Downtown Mount Airy rests at the doorstep of the Blue Ridge Mountains…,” but the board agreed they did not want to imply that, in the words of board member Tom Webb, “Mount Airy is resting anywhere,” and debated the connotations of the word “rest,” before deciding to change the statement to read “…Mount Airy resides… .”
Morrison said she was working on a design proposal for the bathrooms that she would discuss with the Mount Airy Downtown Design Committee. “Lots of comments and photos,” were received and Morrison said while everyone agreed it was “great that Mount Airy has a public bathroom,” most said they would like to see the design improved.
Board member and Downtown Business Association representative Jennie Lowry said she thought it would be nice to see a public art display installed, or perhaps a mural. She added that before the bathrooms were installed, a mural of Andy Griffith Show was in the same location, one that many people admired and photographed.
Lowry said the visitor’s center had more than 200 people check-in on the Saturday of the Christmas parade, which was “good for this time of year,” when the visitor’s center often sees a drop in numbers after the busy summer season.
Board member Gail Theard said she felt the turnout for the parade was great, and said it was something that the group could build on for next year. She added that she felt a billboard would be great for the group to consider, and mentioned a billboard she saw on Interstate 40, advertising events in Morganton.
Main Street Coordinator Lizzie Morrison said the Downtown Business Association made a huge effort to keep people downtown after the Christmas parade, but said many business owners have commented that those attending the parade “cleared out” afterward, despite the many activities planned for Downtown, including visits with Santa Claus at two locations, free milk and cookies, and a free movie, “Elf,” at the Earle Theatre, which only around 50 people took advantage of.
Morrison continued by saying the Downtown Business Association discussed changes for next year, including possibilities such as a later start time or moving the parade to Sunday. As a head start on parade plans for next year, a survey will be sent out to Downtown merchants, she said.
Lowry also brought up another idea discussed at the Downtown Business Association meeting — a large banner to promote Christmas events in downtown, such as the parade.
Mount Airy Downtown President Ted Ashby said he felt the group could buy billboard space for around $3,000 to $4,000 per month, and said he supported the idea.
Board Member Julie Teague suggested that the group think about sending out a newsletter, perhaps each quarter, which would include events and happenings in the Downtown area. Lowry said they should explore sending it through direct mail.
Reach Jessica Johnson at firstname.lastname@example.org or 719-1933.
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