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First fruits of Mount Airy centennial planning nearly ready


After a year and a half of meeting, planning and organizing, Mount Airy's centennial committee is starting to see the fruits of its efforts.

The kickoff banquet is about a month away, and the centennial commemorative book, "A Vision of Home," will be ready next month.

And that's just the beginning. Activities celebrating Mount Airy's first 100 years are scheduled throughout 1994.

"We'll probably have a few clinkers, but almost everything happens that way anyhow," centennial committee chairman Travis Norwood said of the planned events.

"We don't need it to be perfect; we want to celebrate that we're 100 years old now," he said.

Local interest in the festivities is high.

The 250 tickets for the centennial banquet March 26 sold out quickly.

"We knew we were going to sell out, but we didn't think we were going to sell out in two days," Mr. Norwood said.

At the banquet, the centennial quilt will be unveiled. In the making for more than a year, the quilt features scenes of 26 town landmarks. The piece showcases the work of more than 20 local quilters and seamstresses. After the banquet, the quilt will hang in Town Hall.

Another permanent reminder of Mount Airy's centennial celebration will be "A Vision of Home," a 200-page history of Mount Airy with 130 vintage photos.

The book begins in 1831 when six families settled in the area.

The dedication reads: "To the pioneering spirit of those who traveled the National Highway and had a vision of a place they would call home."

Included in the book are chapters detailing Mount Airy's role as a stop on the Baltimore and Ohio railroad, the history of education in Mount Airy and a section on the town's African-American residents.

Just about anything that has happened in Mount Airy, big or small, is mentioned in the book.

For example, the book notes that on Jan. 3, 1947, James Linton and William Rimbey opened the Community Groceteria at Sappington Center.

Centennial committee member C. Oscar Baker was in charge of gathering the photos for the book.

"It entailed talking to a lot of people and talking them out of their old pictures," Mr. Baker said. "But they came forth with a lot of pictures that no one has ever seen before."

"A Vision of Home" can be purchased at Town Hall from 10 a.m. to noon weekdays. The cost is $19.94 through March 15; $25 thereafter.

Mount Airy's celebration of its centennial will continue throughout the year, with lectures, a house tour and a parade.

A lecture series on aspects of Mount Airy history is scheduled for April 6, 13, 20 and 27 at the town's new firehouse. Speakers will be William Knill of the Maryland Farm Bureau; Mr. Baker; Olive Mount, a former teacher at Mount Airy Elementary School; and Walter Dennison, who owns a model train shop on Main Street.

The Mount Airy House Tour, scheduled for May 21, will feature 12 homes and some local churches. Most of the houses were built in the early 1900s and range in architectural style from bungalow to Victorian, said Joann Rockwell, who organized the tour with Mary Ann Gehle.

The tour will be from noon to 5 p.m. and be repeated from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Tickets cost $10 and are available at the Mount Airy Town Hall and Ben Gue Antiques, 6 S. Main St.

On July 3, the centennial committee plans to sponsor an old-fashioned jousting tournament at Wildwood Park, Mr. Norwood said. Tournament details are still being worked out, he said.

Mount Airy's centennial parade is scheduled for Sept. 24, rain or shine.

"It's going to be something else," Mr. Norwood predicted.

Among the parade highlights will be two 35-foot floats -- one with a waterfall -- and the Crean String Band from Philadelphia.

Mr. Norwood said additional centennial events are still being planned.

He said the centennial committee has been pleased that a number of newcomers to Mount Airy have shown an interest in helping with centennial events.

"We've had a lot of folks who have just moved in here recently, and they've been an immense help," Mr. Norwood said.

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