Mount Airy was among a small group of municipalities honored for the quality of their main streets during a celebration this week in Raleigh.
The event was hosted in the N.C. Legislative Building by Rep. Sarah Stevens, whose district includes Surry County, and Rep. Martin Nesbitt of Asheville, another city with a main street of distinction, Lexington Avenue.
It had been announced in early May that Mount Airy was the winner of the 2012 People’s Choice contest for Great Main Street. The contest was part of a “Great Places in North Carolina” initiative spearheaded by the state’s chapter of the American Planning Association.
Wednesday was a time for local representatives to bask in the glory of Mount Airy’s success in the contest, which sought to highlight the main streets of cities which are vibrant, walkable and interesting. Various members of the N.C. General Assembly attended the celebration along with representatives of the American Planning Association and officials of the various municipalities involved.
Though seven Main Streets were honored, Mount Airy had by far the largest delegation on hand Wednesday, according to Steve Yokeley, a city commissioner who attended. “There were only two people from Charlotte,” Yokeley said.
In addition to Mount Airy, Asheville and Charlotte, representatives of other municipalities with notable main streets attended from Edenton, Hillsborough, Gastonia and Southport.
Southport was called Mount Airy’s “biggest competition” for the People’s Choice award by Jessica Icenhour Roberts, director of tourism and marketing for the Greater Mount Airy Chamber of Commerce.
“The representative from Southport mentioned the fierce competition between Mount Airy and Southport and how he truly liked our city and was proud to be in a tight race with a place like Mount Airy,” Roberts reported after Wednesday’s gathering. Southport’s Howe and Moore streets were recognized with the People’s Choice Runner-up award.
Also attending the event from Mount Airy were Betty Ann Collins, the chamber’s president and chief executive officer, and other city officials including commissioners Dean Brown and Shirley Brinkley and City Manager Barbara Jones. Those municipal leaders, along with Yokeley, were already in Raleigh Wednesday for Town Hall Day at the Legislative Building.
The state chapter of the American Planning Association is an organization of 1,500 professional and citizen planners dedicated to preserving and creating great communities throughout North Carolina.
“There were many main streets nominated,” Yokeley said of the group’s recent contest, “but there were only seven finalists.”
Wednesday’s celebration included a presentation being given on each of the special streets in the municipalities honored.
“Sarah Stevens was there to introduce us,” Brown said of Mount Airy’s time in that spotlight.
“She gave a great sales pitch for downtown Mount Airy in her introduction,” Yokeley said.
The variety of shops and friendliness of the people to be found there were highlighted during Wednesday’s event, along with such facilities as Mount Airy Museum of Regional History. Also cited were “the activities we have on weekends that keep people here and entertained,” Brown said.
“It was just an honor to represent the city in that capacity,” he added.
Yokeley indicated that it was great to see Mount Airy receive accolades in a venue such as the press room of the N.C. Legislative Building.
“It was a very upbeat atmosphere,” he said of the celebration.
“You just got a good feeling walking away from something like that, especially since we were part of it.”
The Mount Airy News