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Clayton Center To Open With New Year's Eve Fundraiser

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CLAYTON, N.C. — Johnston County is the 88th fastest growing county in the country. Now, its fastest growing town wants to attract new people and keep longtime residents.

Clayton town leaders said the secret is preserving history while reaching toward the future. The town wants to make this New Year's Eve a night to remember.

Pianist Emile Pandolfi has been playing Broadway tunes for sellout crowds for more than a decade. He never passes up a chance to play in a sacred space.

"In the last month I've played in two or three halls that have been restored to their old grandeur. There's something wonderful about it. These buildings have a feel to them that is really really nice," Pandolfi said.

Pandolfi and local talent will perform a musical revue Tuesday evening as the town officially opens its cultural arts center with a New Year's Eve fundraising gala.

The town spent more than $8 million in public and private money over a four-year period to renovate two school buildings built in the 1920s.

"It's a little bit that everybody, wherever you lived, went to a school like this. We all want that part of our lives saved, that's a part of life we enjoyed. I think that's it. I think it's the romance of these beautiful old buildings," said Lyn Austin, cultural arts chair.

The Clayton Center includes town hall, a state-of-the-art city council chambers, meeting rooms and a 600-seat auditorium.

"People can come to Clayton and live in a small town atmosphere, but enjoy some of the same quality of life amenities they could get in a larger city," said Steve Biggs, Clayton town manager.

The town also has a new town seal designed by a local resident after the town held a contest.

The changes are a reminder that the Clayton Center is truly a combination of the town's history and its future.

The New Year's Eve celebration at the Clayton Center includes entertainment, dinner and dancing until the stroke of midnight. Proceeds benefit future cultural arts events.

Clayton Center New Year's Eve Gala

  • Doors open at 7 p.m., show begins at 8 p.m.
  • Tickets: $75 per person. Available at door or by calling box office: (919)553-3152.
  • Dress: Black-tie optional
  • The Clayton Center is located at the corner of Second and Fayetteville Streets in downtown Clayton.


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