Mayor on tourism: ‘I promise you it will work’

 

By Kevin Spradlin
PeeDeePost.com

* Photo gallery – nearly 400 images from Thursday night!
* May 1: Plaza Jam opens with special performance
2014 PDP coverage
* May 1: The Tams photos and video
* June 5: Jim Quick and Coastline photos and video
* July 3: The Sand Band photos and video
* Aug. 7: Too Much Sylvia photos and video
* April 28: Prettying up for Plaza Jam

ROCKINGHAM — There was frisbee throwing, downhill running, picnics on the lawn — and oh yeah, there was music, too.

The first of six open-air concerts on Cole Plaza in downtown Rockingham went out without a hitch — but plenty of shag dancing — as the Tim Clark Band played on to kick off the 12th annual Plaza Jam series, held the first Thursday night of each month from May through October.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Members of the Rocket Choir, from Rockingham Middle School, perform at intermission of the Tim Clark Band's set on Thursday, the opening of the 12th annual Plaza Jam concert series.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Members of the Rocket Choir, from Rockingham Middle School, perform at intermission of the Tim Clark Band’s set on Thursday, the opening of the 12th annual Plaza Jam concert series.

For 3-year-old Jayce Rape, of Rockingham, the music mattered not. What was important to him was the hill beside the Thomas Leath Memorial Library. Up he walked. Down he ran, into the waiting arms of his mother, Angie Tilley. The two smiled, and Jayce was off to do it again.

Jayce liked the guitar player the best. Tilley liked everything about being outdoors on a Spring evening in the city of Rockingham.

It was, perhaps, the largest crowd to attend Plaza Jam in at least a couple of years. Rockingham Mayor Steve Morris said he was talking about the newly hired Richmond County tourism director. One person’s response was, “big deal.”

Morris didn’t take offense at the skepticism. Instead, he considered it an opportunity.

“‘Ma’am’,” Morris said while on stage to recognize the performance of the award-winning Rocket Choir from Rockingham Middle School, “‘it will be a big deal. It may take a little time, but I promise you it will work.'”

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Jayce Rape, 3, and mom Angie Tilley enjoy one-on-one time. Jayce's favorite Thursday night was walking up, then running down a grassy hill on Cole Plaza.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Jayce Rape, 3, and mom Angie Tilley enjoy one-on-one time. Jayce’s favorite Thursday night was walking up, then running down a grassy hill on Cole Plaza.

Kelly Pruett, the aforementioned newly hired tourism director, agreed. Pruett had erected a Richmond County Tourism Development Authority tent with a table of brochures featuring area and regional attractions — and, yes, the green frisbees were her idea. Kids loved ’em.

Pruett, on the job only since April 16, said she’s visiting every attraction to get an idea of what they need, what they don’t have and how she can help. There are very simple ways to help get the word out about local attractions, she said, that event organizers either aren’t aware of or discarding as altogether unimportant. But it is important.

“I’m gonna wear Richmond County’s name out,” Pruett said. “I’m going to make sure Richmond County’s name is everywhere. It is going to work. There’s no doubt in my mind.”

Pruett said action, not words, will help win over naysayers. For now, she understands lingering negativity.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Frisbees handed out by the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority were a big hit.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Frisbees handed out by the Richmond County Tourism Development Authority were a big hit.

“They’re right,” Pruett said of those in doubt of a new tourism plan nearly two years in the making. “It hasn’t happened.”

That, she said, is going to change. Anyone wishing to volunteer in the process should call her at 910-895-9057.

While the serious topics were for the long-term view, more pressing was the immediate need for Plaza Jam schedules — available for purchase on colorful T-shirts from the city of Rockingham — and cuisine prepared and served by AMVETS Post 316.

* * * 

The second annual Hitchcock Creek Duck Derby (see PDP’s 2014 coverage) is less than a month away. A total of 5,000 yellow plastic ducks will float 0.26 miles down Hitchcock Creek Blue Trail on Sunday, June 7.

Representatives of Sandhills Children’s Center, both the Rockingham and Southern Pines campuses, were out in full force — with a larger-than-life yellow duck appropriately named Derby. Derby did a little moving and shaking with fans of all ages in an effort to spread the word about the upcoming charity event.

Children of all ages may purchase a duck for $10 beginning at 1 p.m. and enter the race at 2 p.m.  Duck wranglers will retrieve the ducks from the water at the end of the race for the children to take home.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com Derby the Duck, the official mascot of the second annual Hitchcock Creek Duck Derby next month, was a celebrated Plaza Jam patron.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com
Derby the Duck, the official mascot of the second annual Hitchcock Creek Duck Derby next month, was a celebrated Plaza Jam patron.

At 2:30 p.m., the 5,000 ducks will be released. The sponsor of the first-place Super Duck will win $1,500, the second-place Lucky Duck will win $500 while other finishers will be awarded various gift certificates.

If the winning duck’s number matches one of two numbers preselected by SCA Promotions, a $1 million prize will be shared equally between the duck’s “foster parent” sponsor and Sandhills Children’s Center.

Official winners will be announced at 3:30 p.m.

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

Kevin Spradlin | PeeDeePost.com

 

Filed in: Arts & Entertainment, Featured News, Latest Headlines, News, Outdoors, Rockingham

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