Local News

Fayetteville Gets Dressed Up For Festival Of Flight

Posted May 13, 2003 9:45 a.m. EDT

— All this year, North Carolina is celebrating the 100th anniversary of flight. Although man's first powered flight took place at Kitty Hawk, Fayetteville is one of the main places to celebrate the centennial.

The city's

Festival of Flight

takes off Friday. But signs of the huge celebration are already landing downtown.

Just a month ago, a dilapidated house stood at a particular street corner. Now, the property is one of several focal points for the half million people expected to come to Fayetteville for the 11-day festival.

Artist Tom Grubb is putting the final touches on his sculpture, which has navigation lights that will shine up to three miles away at Friday night's opening ceremonies.

Stargate 2003 will move like a pendulum in the wind between two poles that stand more than 100 feet tall.

"You draw it on a piece of paper," Grubb said. "and you hope when it gets larger than life, it meets your expectations."

The city has big expectations for Festival of Flight. Leaders say it's an opportunity to show the world this is a revitalized and vibrant city.

Traffic lights have already come down at an intersection. In the next few days, a roundabout will be built.

A block away at Cross Creek, a stage with seating for 400 people is taking shape. It is a site where a rundown house used to stand.

Work on those projects has been planned for more than two years, but they are being built at the last moment.

"We want the excitement to build," said Gordon Clapp, Festival of Flight executive director. "We want people to participate in this and turn out for it because it's not going to happen for another 100 years."

There is a lot of work that has been going on behind the scenes, too. For months, police have been working on traffic plans to accommodate the thousands of visitors, and security also will take center stage.