Mount Airy wins Great Main Streets contest
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MOUNT AIRY, N.C. – Mount Airy claimed bragging rights among 75 cities in North Carolina. The real life Mayberry has won an online contest spotlighting the state's Great Main Streets.
The North Carolina chapter of the American Planning Association created the contest and sifted through 75 nominations. It selected six finalists with Main Streets it said were charming, historic or just plain fun.
"What the folks here have done is create a brand, an attraction, a place where people want to go, walk around, shop, dine, be seen with each other,” said the association's Roger Bardsley.
With the click of the mouse, people chose Mount Airy as the winner of the first Great Main Street award. It was an affirmation of the Chamber of Commerce's year round effort to keep Main Street the city's central attraction.
"How friendly people are walking downtown, how we have a vibrant retail structure downtown,” said Jessica Icenhour Roberts, the chamber's director of tourism. “We've got great places to walk, great places to shop, great places to eat, and this award showcases what all we have."
The daily stream of tourists on Main Street is evidence that the city has succeeded.
"They say that as downtown goes, so goes the city and this place is alive and bustling,” said tourist John Workun. “Obviously all the shops and the restaurants and the vendors, the people, they're excited to be out on the street. It works."
"My girlfriend lives here and she said it's the best Main Street on Earth, so, come on up and we did," said Sue Ann Marrero.
Tourism is a big driver of the local economy and officials said that the Great Main Street award would make Mount Airy an even bigger draw.
"It's a major award and we are confident that we will see many more visitors in our town,” said Mayor Deborah Cochran. “Main Street is emblematic of simple lifestyles and wholesome values. Things that people look for in today's world."
Southport was the runner-up in the 2012 Great Main Streets competition. The four other finalists included Charlotte, Asheville, Hillsborough and Edenton.