Times Square does its thing on New Year’s Eve — but the arrival of 2023 also will be celebrated with style in Mount Airy, where the annual Mayberry Sheriff’s Badge Raising is planned.
“We’re one of the few communities that does something like that,” said Executive Director Matt Edwards of Mount Airy Museum of Regional History, where the holiday observance now in its ninth year will be held next Saturday night as 2022 ends.
“Most drop something,” Edwards added regarding situations such as that in New York City, where a ball is dropped to signify the passage of time into another calendar as the clock strikes twelve. The museum official hatched the idea of the badge raising in 2014 because Mount Airy was lacking such an event to officially greet Jan. 1.
It involves a oversized, lighted sheriff’s shield being hoisted, a variation of the ball descending in Times Square at the stroke of midnight on New Year’s Eve. The badge is a tie-in to Sheriff Andy Taylor of Mayberry, the television role immortalized by local native Andy Griffith.
The public is invited to the downtown New Year’s Eve celebration, planned from 11:45 p.m. to midnight in the courtyard of the museum.
“It is going to be kind of a toned-down event this year,” Edwards said in comparison with past badge raisings that also featured various other activities — but which have been hampered in more recent years by COVID-related issues.
This included being livestreamed in 2020 due to a nighttime curfew imposed during the pandemic.
The museum director said organizers have sought to keep alive the badge-raising tradition with the different formats employed.
“But we will not have a whole lot of programming associated with that,” he said of the Dec. 31 gathering.
It will, however, include some special features, including plans to invite the Mount Airy High School football team and coaches after their recent victory in the 1-A state championship game.
This is a fitting gesture since the Bears’ achievement is a highlight of the soon-to-be-ended 2022.
Edwards said he had contacted Coach J.K. Adkins about the team’s appearance. “And he sounded amenable to it,” the museum executive director advised.
While the players largely are to attend in a ceremonial capacity honoring their accomplishment, he says some might have the honor of holding ropes for the sheriff’s badge.
“We’ll have some music playing,” Edwards said, to be provided by a DJ, Mark Brown.
The museum official is hoping patrons who might be at other venues downtown on New Year’s Eve will meander to the courtyard of that facility for the raising of the badge.