By: Tom Joyce Staff Reporter
September 30, 2013
For someone not a fan of “The Andy Griffith Show,” downtown Mount Airy wasn’t the place to be Saturday morning — but those who are were treated to a parade offering every Mayberry attraction under the sun.
During the 40-minute procession, North Main Street was filled with colorful floats and vintage cars and trucks, many with actors and musicians who actually appeared on the 1960s series perched atop or waving from inside.
While some cast members have gone on the big courthouse in the sky, their presence was still felt through an array of look-a-likes which brought their characters to life during the annual Mayberry Days Parade.
In addition to the Mayberry Deputy David Browning, a festival regular, numerous other Barney Fifes in uniform were spotted strolling along the street at various intervals. At least one chose to sport the fedora and tweed suit Barney sometimes donned.
There were also multiple Goobers, Sheriff Andys, at least one Briscoe Darling and an Aunt Bea who was the spitting image of the real thing. Floyd the Barber, Otis, Gomer and Opie were well-represented as well — even Boss Hogg from another TV series who rode in a convertible with the familiar bull horns mounted on the hood.
Squad cars similar to what Andy and Barney drove were plentiful Saturday, enough to form a Ford Galaxie dealership.
In addition to the sights were the sounds, with speakers in some of the squad cars blaring the theme from “The Andy Griffith Show” as they rolled along. That also was the musical selection of the North Surry High School band while marching down the street, to the crowd’s delight.
Mayberry fan clubs were woven into the event as well, including the The Andy Griffith Show Rerun Watchers Club, which appears in the parade each year. There was also the Barney Chapter from Greensboro, which paid tribute to the Mayberry filling station with a sign that read, “Goober took our car apart.”
Club members carried various parts, such as hubcaps and bumpers, referencing a popular episode in which Goober tears down a car and reassembles it in the courthouse.
Betty Lynn, who played Barney’s girlfriend Thelma Lou on the show, led the parade in a classic Buick, and other dignitaries featured were James Best, Maggie Peterson Mancuso (aka Charlene Darling, who rode on a tractor), Margaret Kerry, Morgan Brittany, LeRoy McNees, Karen Knotts (Don’s daughter), Roland White and George Lindsey Jr.
Rounding out the array was a pickle queen, a potato queen and other eye-catching entries.
Based on police estimates, this year’s parade attendance under a sunny sky easily exceeded that of 2012, when rain was a factor and the turnout was put at 3,500.
On Saturday, the sidewalks were three and four people deep in some spots, so crowded that one had to walk in the street to get around.
Mayberry Fans were there from near and far, including Dean Nowaki, who attended from Indianapolis with his wife Sheilagh and granddaughter, Ellie Nowaki, 13.
“This is our second year” at the festival, Nowaki said while standing beside his car with a message on the rear window that said, “Honk! If you’re goin’ to Mayberry Days.”
The Indiana visitor, who wore a badge in keeping with the festivities, added that he enjoys the interesting array of floats the parade offers. “And the creativity of it,” Nowaki said.
Local fans were in abundance as well, such as Eric Leonard of Mount Airy, who came with his family, including son Kyle, 5, who sat on his dad’s shoulders for a better view.
“Tradition” was the word from the elder Leonard, a regular parade attendee, in describing what attracts him to the event each year. He also indicated that it is a way of bringing back the days when life was more wholesome and simpler, as they were in Mayberry.
That was echoed by Zack Blackmon Jr., who was seen at the parade with family members including a granddaughter who seemed to enjoy the colorful procession.
“I guess the first thing that comes to mind is awesome,” Blackmon said of the spectacle that he said is “something to look forward to every year” in Mount Airy.
“And I hope it stays around for a long time.”
Reach Tom Joyce at 7191-924 or email@example.com.