Photo by Valerie Baldowski
McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland (center) strides down Keys Ferry Street with a group of walkers in tow. Copeland led this year's first "Walk With Billy" walking tour this week, as part of the city's Wellness Program.
When Pat Dillard joined McDonough Mayor Billy Copeland for a walk around the McDonough Square, she had no idea she would be learning the history of some of the city's oldest buildings from an expert.
Thursday's walk was the first in the series of "Walk With Billy" tours, Copeland's April event in the city's annual Wellness Program.
The evening walk began at the McDonough Welcome Center on the downtown Square, and took participants past some of the city's historic buildings and down residential streets.
As part of the tour, Copeland stopped periodically to tell a story or share a bit of the history behind particular buildings. Dillard said she found the walk enjoyable and educational.
"As we were walking, I thought to myself, I'm walking the streets of McDonough with the mayor. Who would've thought?" she said. "I couldn't go into Atlanta and walk the city streets with the mayor of Atlanta, could I? Only in McDonough."
Copeland stopped at Emily's Attic and the Hazlehurst House. He told the group the history behind the building that now houses Scarlett's Retreat Day Spa, formerly the Globe Hotel. The mayor also discussed the history of the Babb Apartments on Bryan Street, the first apartments built in the city in the 1950s.
Copeland said afterward that he was happy with the participation level.
"It turned out the weather couldn't have been better," he said. "The rain left us, it was cool, and it was a perfect night to tour McDonough."
The event was a good way to plug into the historical atmosphere of the city, Copeland added. "I hope people had an opportunity to get the flavor of what McDonough's all about," he said.
The walk was approximately three miles, and ended back at the Welcome Center. Dean White said he participated in the walks last year and that while some of the information was repeated, he nonetheless enjoyed the experience. "It's a nice walk, and there's an awful lot of interesting things about this area," White said.
Mike and Jana Warren brought along their children, 7-month-old Karley and 2-year-old Mallory, in a double stroller.
"I enjoyed it," Mike Warren said. "I had been wanting to do one because the mayor gives so much history, and I like the history of the Square. When you go along, he tells about the old houses and the way it was back in the early 1900s."
Susan and Willie Heredia were keeping pace with Copeland, staying in the middle of the pack.
"We did last month's dancing with Billy, so we decided we would learn about some history in McDonough, and continue to participate in this program," Susan Heredia said. "I'm amazed at how much information he knows about McDonough."
The mayor's Healthy Hearts dance classes were held on the Square during the month of March.
The next Walk with Billy tour is scheduled for today (Saturday), at 11 a.m.