When most hear the the term “honeymoon destination,” it typically conjures up images of palm trees, waves crashing, and newly married couples lounging on the sand.
For newlyweds from South Carolina, the dream honeymoon destination was a little bit different — Mount Airy, a way to capture and celebrate the spirit of Mayberry and let that spirit carry them into their new marriage, an inspiration for a new life together.
Donald and Elaine Pope married on Dec. 7 at the County Line Arena Rodeo in Hemingway, S.C. When the couple arrived in downtown Mount Airy this week, the first thing Elaine said she noticed were the streets lined with what could only be a perfect coincidence — the snowflakes that illuminate downtown each night in the holiday season.
“Here's my snowflakes,” she said in delight, as she described how she wanted snowflakes in her wedding, but couldn't find many before the big day.
Elaine and Donald planned to take a picture under the snowflakes, she said, while she held her wedding bouquet that she still had in her car, a bouquet of red roses.
“We are takin' our time…the best part is we don't have to hurry, we've got plenty of time,” Donald said, smiling at his new bride. The couple arrived on Monday and planned to stay “at least through Wednesday.”
“And people are just so friendly here,” new bride Elaine remarked. “Everywhere we go, especially once they find out why we are here, they just make us feel so welcome.”
Both Donald, age 59, and Elaine, age 64, said they are lifelong fans of the “Andy Griffith Show” — “it's a good family show,” Elaine remarked.
“It's a friendly town, just like Andy would step up and welcome you right in. We just didn't want to miss this…good way to start our marriage. This place just makes you feel good.”
The couple said they had eaten the infamous pork chop sandwich at Snappy Lunch and enjoyed a lunch at Barney's Restaurant. Elaine said they loved going in all the stores in Downtown Mount Airy, and Donald added that they planned to go to the Mount Airy Museum of Regional History and the Gertrude Smith House. Donald said he was looking forward to enjoying a jam session at the Earle Theatre's Old-Time Music Hall. They also took a spin in the sheriff's car, which was a great moment for both of them, Elaine said.
The “beautiful old-looking buildings” with “so much character” really made an impression with the couple, who said they loved hearing “the stories behind the history.”
The couple plans to return to live in the Hemingway area, in a community known as Pleasant Hill. They said they already had plans to come back to Mount Airy, and will bring along their nephew, Boyd Miller, a truck driver who was the first to clue them in on what would become their honeymoon destination.
Miller had passed near the area several times, and knew Donald and Elaine love the show, so he shared a few brochures he picked up while he was trucking, and as fate would have it, their first week of marriage began in Mayberry, “like an episode straight out of the 'Andy Griffith Show'” Elaine remarked.
“It's truly been a memorable honeymoon, and we can't wait to come back.”