Originally created 09/23/04

Andy Griffith to unveil statue in hometown



MOUNT AIRY, N.C. -- 'Andy Griffith is coming home Friday, when he will unveil a TV Land statue that's a copy of the one that the cable network placed in Raleigh last fall.

The statue shows Sheriff Andy Taylor from "The Andy Griffith Show" and his son, Opie, walking to the fishing hole.

The statue will be placed outside the Andy Griffith Playhouse, which once was the Rockford Street Elementary School that Griffith attended."I've never seen so many people take on a project together with so much energy," said Tanya Rees, executive director of the Surry Arts Council.

The arts council hustled to complete a landscaping project outside the Andy Griffith Playhouse where the statue will be placed and is overseeing the construction of an outdoor amphitheater behind City Hall.

Members hope that it will be finished in time for the statue's unveiling.Griffith's visit Friday will mark the start of the 15th annual Mayberry Days festival. Fans of the show come in search of Mayberry, the fictional town that TV producers say was based on a combination of Griffith's hometown of Mount Airy, nearby Pilot Mountain and other areas of North Carolina.

This will be Griffith's first visit to Mount Airy during Mayberry Days and just the third time in 47 years that he will make a public appearance in town. He was last in Mount Airy in October 2002 when more than 2,500 people greeted him as Gov. Mike Easley named a section of U.S. 52 in his honor.

Up to that point, Griffith had not made a public appearance in his hometown since 1957, when he appeared in a parade after the success of "No Time for Sergeants" on Broadway.