Collection of Characters

Mark Chilton


By Laurie Paolicelli

A food blogger, an historian, a hippie, and an activist walk into a bar – a joke which, in these Covid days, has not aged well. But if such a thing could happen it very well might happen in Chapel Hill.

Because these are the folks making news here.

Mark Chilton Honored with Community History Award Presentation from Chapel Hill Historical Society

Last month the Chapel Hill Historical Society held a Zoom presentation to honor Mark Chilton. Mark began his public service career as a UNC student, serving on the Chapel Hill Town Council in 1991. He became mayor of Carrboro in 2005 and in 2014 he was elected as Orange County Register of Deeds.

As Register of Deeds, Mark has been responsible for taking care of Orange County’s historical and vital records – the “custodian of the county’s history,” as he puts it. He has made significant strides in the digitization of all types of records, including every existing deed book in Orange County. He’s creating detailed maps of original colonial and state land grants and headed up a team creating a registry of all known enslaved persons as identified in old county deeds and wills from Orange County’s earliest days until the end of slavery.

He is making history accessible to us all.


Carrie Brogen

Carrie Brogen, Food Blogger Draws 10,000 Plus Followers Who Love the Local Food Scene 

Carrie Brogen is a longtime fan of the food scene in Chapel Hill, but there was no place to truly follow its goings-on. She filled that void by creating the Chapel Hill/Durham Foodies Group on Facebook. The group is a positive, interactive space where members can share local, food-related information and offer support to local food-related businesses. She founded the group in July of 2019 and today the site hosts over 10,000 members and continues to grow. We asked Carrie how locals and visitors can best support restaurants now. Here are some of her suggestions:

  • Order takeout
  • Order family meal kits or catering
  • Buy gift cards and/or restaurant merchandise
  • Support local or national charitable campaigns that are designed to collect funds for our food and beverage industry
  • Share your positive dining experiences on social media
  • If you feel comfortable doing it, dine out! Many restaurants have outdoor patio service and socially distanced seating.
  • If you are able, tip generously

“We are fortunate to live in an area with so many choices,” Carrie says. “Chapel Hill-Carrboro is host to a wide variety of innovative cuisine. Whether you are looking for student-friendly options, fine dining, or intriguing fusions, there is literally something for everyone.”

There’s a Hippie on this Hill

Hippies still exist, but they’re becoming rarer by the day. Ronnie Parker wears the mantle proudly, however, and his recent CD, “Hippy Hill,” helps prove the point. For the last 35 years or so he’s also owned and operated a highly successful sign making company, Archer Graphics, in Carrboro. He just turned it over to his son. 

In 1970 Ronnie came to UNC with the intention of studying Law but “many new experiences, the ongoing Vietnam war, the deaths of political leaders, and some disillusion, it became apparent that my interest in art and music would prevail.”

Ronnie went on to work in printmaking; he and opened Archer Graphics, in the 1980s. Today Ronnie still plays guitar and sings with several local groups. He’s also a successful artist, focusing on metal and wood sculptures. “On my business card there are several headings: printer, painter, musician, father, and fisherman.” Put more simply: family, music, and wood. Check out his work here.

Mary Swann Parry pictured with NaShonda L. Bender-Cooke at the International Civil Rights Center & Museum

Social Justice Art Now Available for Sale On-line

College towns have long been at the center of political and social debates in the United States and around the world. After all, a university is meant to provide students with a place to access knowledge, engage with others’ perspectives and experiences, and develop and advocate their own philosophies.

A grassroots group of artists and organizers in Chapel Hill organized a pop-up art walk on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill during 2020 Early Voting. It featured more than 70 pieces of local art intended to inspire voting, action & justice. Most of these #MeetTheMoment2020 pieces are now up for auction.

All proceeds will go to the NAACP of Chapel Hill Carrboro.

Organizer Mary Swann Parry was the brainchild of this event. “The inspiration came from the tumultuous events of 2020 and the loss of key social justice leaders. We wanted a way to remind our community to rise up and vote.” 

The artwork is now available for sale here through December 13.

It may be some time before you will find these people walking into a bar together. For now just know that they are out there, sharing their special skills and interests with our community and through sharing making Orange County the unique, engaged and delightfully eccentric place it is.

Laurie Paolicelli is the Executive Director of the Chapel Hill/Orange County Visitors Bureau.

Share This Article

Scroll down to make a comment.

Be the first to comment on "Collection of Characters"

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published.