Written by NoPlaceLikeHome on 12 Oct, 2006
This year's parade was the best yet! There were the customary Mayberry Patrol Cars, of course. And all the main characters from the show were represented, in costume: Aunt Bea rode in the back of an old car in the rumble seat wearing her pill…Read More
This year's parade was the best yet! There were the customary Mayberry Patrol Cars, of course. And all the main characters from the show were represented, in costume: Aunt Bea rode in the back of an old car in the rumble seat wearing her pill box hat. Opie and Goober walked together, Goober telling everyone "Hey", and Opie pretending he's going to shoot his slingshot (but we know he wouldn't because Pa wouldn't approve!) Barney had arrested Otis, and they were driving up and down in a golf cart, Floyd was riding with them, too. Howard walked next to them in his suit. The folks just kept going up and down the parade route, so you actually saw them more than once, because they'd leave and come back, leave and come back.
A new entry in this year's parade was The Barney Society - they were great! This group had each individual dressed in a unique costume from different episodes of the show - Barney in the wedding dress when he was pretending to be Charlene to trick Otis T., etc. The real Charlene was in the parade too. She was riding in an old truck with "The Darlings" waving to everyone, she was the A-List star of this year's Mayberry Days! When she saw my little freckle faced son, she looked at him and said "Hi Little Opie!" And The Darlings were playing their good old country mountain music. There were other people dressed an different characters from different episodes - like "The Fun Girls" (remember when Barney took Andy on a blind date to make Helen jealous?) There were also D-List stars from the show that once made an appearance in an episode of the Andy Griffith Show.
The sign on the side of the car they were riding in would identify the episode and the part they played in that show. They really had to search for these people, I think. There was even one that was a relative of someone that had been on one episode of the show. We joked that next year, anyone that even watched the show would have their own entry in the parade! It was a really fun, entertaining parade, and we completely enjoyed it. The parade lasted about 45 minutes. After the parade, we walked around downtown and in the shops on Main Street. The crowd hung around longer this year than last year because there was so much more to do. Every store was again playing a version of "The Fishing Hole" (the Andy Griffith Show theme song. Some were just whistling, some sang the actual lyrics. The downtown cinema had live country blue grass music bands playing for free. Some stores had live country music sidewalk bands playing too. It was a very fun day! As we were walking back to the car in the residential area, we passed the Opie impersonator going the other way. My son said "Hey Opie" and Opie said "Hey" back.
Written by MCJ graduate on 11 Jun, 2005
This visitor center is the former office of a doctor named Dr. Robert Smith. He is the brother of Gertrude Smith, who is the benefactor of the Gilmer-Smith Foundation. In 1910, this gorgeous home was erected, and it is on the National Historic Register of…Read More
This visitor center is the former office of a doctor named Dr. Robert Smith. He is the brother of Gertrude Smith, who is the benefactor of the Gilmer-Smith Foundation. In 1910, this gorgeous home was erected, and it is on the National Historic Register of Homes. The Gilmer-Smith Foundation has run both the Mount Airy Visitors Center and the historic Gertrude Smith House since 1981.
This center is mostly dedicated to Andy Griffith and the television series centered around this town. It boasts that it is the home of the largest collection of Andy Griffith memorabilia in the country. I will admit that it does have three intriguing rooms filled with various artifacts. These artifacts include such items as a Madlock suit and a chair that Griffith used as a baby. However, it does have other information concerning other local natives, such as country-western singer Donna Fargo and bluegrass legend Tommy Jarrell. In addition, it has literature on the original Siamese twins, Eng and Chang Bunker, whom lived near Mount Airy in the White Plains community. When we were there, we viewed a VCR tape on these people. But I found the most interesting part of this tape was that the Bunker brothers lived a pretty normal life with their physical challenges. They each were married (they married women that were sisters) and had several children. And their livelihood was farming with their wives.
The elderly women who operated the visitor center the day we were there were helpful and informative. They gave us a map of the downtown attractions in Mount Airy. The ladies told us about Mayberry Days, too. They were a complete joy to deal with. The women answered all our questions about Mount Airy and never acted like we were consuming all their time. These nice ladies even told us about the Robert Smith Memorial Park, which is behind the visitor center. It has a stunning garden setting where people can have picnics. And during the summer months, it is the place for the Summer Music Series in the Park. The admissions to the concerts are free. This is sponsored yearly by the Gilmer-Smith Foundation. These concerts include tracing the musical heritage of North Carolina by using various instruments and telling traditional stories on the third Sunday of each month through September from 5 to 7pm.
The Mount Airy Visitors Center is located one block north of the downtown business district and open every day of the year except Christmas and New Year’s Day. And the hours are Monday to Saturday 9am to 5pm and Sunday 11am to 4:30pm. There is no admission fee to enter the visitor center.
Although this service station turned into a tourist shop, it wasn’t open when we were there, but we still took a picture and looked at it closely. Wally’s Service Station does kind of look like where Goober and Gomer from Mayberry worked. The station is…Read More
Although this service station turned into a tourist shop, it wasn’t open when we were there, but we still took a picture and looked at it closely. Wally’s Service Station does kind of look like where Goober and Gomer from Mayberry worked. The station is a small building that still has the old-fashioned gas pumps. It was built in 1937. The station was first a Gulf Station, then became a Standard Oil Station. It remained a service station until the middle 1980s. The station was refurbished about 5 years ago, and since has been opened as a souvenir/tourist shop. The name of the shop is The Fruit Basket, which is known for gourmet baskets for all occasions. It also sells collectibles, clothing, souvenirs, coffees, etc.
The owners invite tourists to spend some leisure time with them. They have RC cola and moon pies available and offer their rocking chair to sit in. The Fruit Basket is open Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm and Saturday 10am to 3pm.
After we swung by Wally’s Service Station, we went to Floyd’s Barber Shop. Again, this wasn’t open, but we took a picture of the outside of it. The man that owns it is not named Floyd, but who cares. This barber shop is known nationally for years due to Griffith’s model of it for the barber shop on "The Andy Griffith Show." Even celebrities have gone here, such as Oprah Winfrey and Lou Ferrigno.
Floyd’s Barber Shop is owned by Russell Hiatt. He has been in business for several decades. He still has the barber chair where he claims he cut Mr. Andy Griffith’s hair before he went off to college. Mr. Hiatt asserts that there are people that still ask him where Floyd is, and some still ask where Mayberry is located. He explains gingerly that Floyd was a fictional character on "The Andy Griffith Show" and there is no real town called Mayberry.
Mr. Hiatt will take your picture (and give it to you) if you agree to smile for another picture for him for his wall. Many people like to sit in the same barber chair that Griffith had his hair cut in and have their photo taken. Last I knew, Hiatt had taken 24,000, and many of these are on the wall of the shop. In addition, he sells T-shirts, but he has been known to give a few away sometimes. Some locals say he’d rather take pictures and visit with the tourists than cut hair.
If you want a haircut, I think he charges $7. Many tourists go to him to get their hair cut because he has cut Griffith’s and it is Floyd’s Barber Shop. There is no charge to tour his shop.
The Old City Jail was one of many attractions we saw in Mount Airy. It is a local recreation of "The Courthouse" seen in many episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show." We saw the outside of it (it wasn’t open when we were there), and…Read More
The Old City Jail was one of many attractions we saw in Mount Airy. It is a local recreation of "The Courthouse" seen in many episodes of "The Andy Griffith Show." We saw the outside of it (it wasn’t open when we were there), and the vintage squad car was parked in front of it (better known as Barney Fife's car)
Actually, the Old City Jail was Mount Airy’s real one for several years. In addition, it has been Mount Airy’s municipal building, which holds many city offices and the Mount Airy Police Department. But, several years ago, the city offices were relocated to a new municipal building on South Main Street. Then what moved in this building was a local business.
Along with the local business in this building, The Old City Jail is the location of the annual Mayberry Days Proclamation by the mayor of Mount Airy.
You can tour this jail Monday to Friday 8am to 4:30pm, but it is closed Saturday and Sunday. The phone number of this place is 336/789-4636 or 800/576-0231.The admission to enter is free. You also can purchase souvenirs here.
When we went to Mount Airy in 2003 and 2004, we didn’t know about the vintage squad car ride you can have in Mount Airy. But we did know about where this car was located. As I mentioned, it sits in front of The Old City Jail. Therefore, we did at least take pictures of it and examine it closely. And it really does look like the car Barney Fife drove. Anyway, you can take a tour in this car. This tour takes you to Andy Griffith’s boyhood home, down the Main Street in Mount Airy, where you will pass Floyd’s Barbershop and Snappy Lunch. Then you will be driven to other attractions, such as the Andy Griffith Playhouse, the Old Jail, and the visitor center (home of the Andy Griffith Museum). In addition, you will swing by Wally’s Service Station. And then you will be taken to the open-face granite quarry and to the site where the "Andy and Opie Going to the Fishing Hole" statute is. This narrated cruise of Mount Airy (Mayberry) starts at $20 for 20 minutes. This tour is also available for special occasions, weddings, advertising, promotions, etc.
A squad car tour can be scheduled by calling 336/789-OPIE.
As cheesy as this tour may seem, I think kids and avid fans of "The Andy Griffith Show" would really like this. For the kids, it is riding in an old funny-looking car with a big cherry light on top, and for the adults, it would be being in a vintage car that looks like the one the character Barney Fife drove.