An event that is on its way to becoming one of the most popular in Mount Airy will continue Saturday night when the city rings in 2017 with the Third-Annual Mayberry Sheriff Badge Raising downtown.
David Beal, a former city commissioner, police chief, county clerk of court and State Bureau of Investigation agent who recently received the state Order of the Long Leaf Pine award, will be the honorary badge raiser.
That will coincide with a traditional countdown to the new year, which will be preceded by live music and other activities in the courtyard area of Mount Airy Museum of Regional History on North Main Street, near where the badge will be raised.
“It has become a pretty popular thing,” Matt Edwards, the museum’s director, said of the New Year’s Eve gathering.
Last year’s attendance was put at between 400 and 600.
“I think people are always looking for something to do here,” Mark Brown, who is credited as the brainchild of the badge raising, said of a city celebration of New Year’s Eve which went lacking before he hatched the event.
“It was just the idea that Mount Airy had gone all these years and really done nothing to celebrate the new year, and we decided to fix that,” Brown explained. “And it’s a family type thing that people can do and it doesn’t cost any money.”
Edwards, the museum director, said the music will begin about 11:30 p.m. in the courtyard area to build up the crowd for the impending countdown.
The group Going Dutch, described as a progressive rock group that covers various songs but also known for innovations such as performing a jazz version of a rap song, will perform. It officially describes itself as an experimental/baroque pop band.
“They’re college students from all over,” said Brown, including his son. “They were pretty popular with the crowd last year” and there was a mutual decision to have Going Dutch return, he added.
“There might be one or two other small surprises,” Brown said of Saturday night’s activities, for which the emphasis is not so much on a formal program but providing a setting for people to have fun.
There were plans to add fireworks this year, but those had to be scrapped for logistical reasons. It is hoped fireworks can be a part of the next New Year’s Eve celebration.
“Our goal is a more elaborate event each year,” Edwards said.
“From the museum’s standpoint, this is a great way for us to reach out to folks.”
One of the goals behind the New Year’s Eve/badge-raising countdown was to establish a community gathering for a milestone holiday which can be enjoyed by generations to come, Edwards said, while also celebrating the city’s Mayberry heritage.
Party at winery
Before Saturday night’s badge-raising event, an annual New Year’s Eve fundraising party is scheduled at Old North State Winery, which will have a charge for admission.
Advance tickets cost $20 and those at the door will be $25.
All ticket proceeds will benefit Mount Airy Museum of Regional History.
The party begins at 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve and is to end at 1 a.m. Sunday.
Music will be provided by Time Sawyer.
Tom Joyce may be reached at 336-415-4693 or on Twitter @Me_Reporter.