Orange County’s Interstate sign on I-40 will have a new slogan - Welcome to Orange County:
Around the Corner, Ahead of the Curve

ORANGE COUNTY, NC (June 10, 2016) - At its June 7, 2016 business meeting, the Orange County Board of Commissioners voted to replace its Interstate welcome sign message, which currently reads, “You’ll be a Fan for Life,” with a new one: “Welcome to Orange County: Around the Corner, Ahead of the Curve.”  The new message, chosen from submissions from the public, serves as an invitation for motorists to take a moment, maybe even a detour, and explore a community known for its advancements in social justice, the environment, and a world-renowned home of education and entertainment.

The Board of County Commissioners asked the County’s Community Relations Department to launch a campaign encouraging residents to provide ideas on what the County’s Interstate welcome sign should read.  More than 900 submissions were received and, through public polling, “Around the corner, Ahead of the curve,” consistently ranked in the top 3.  The County Commissioner’s vote was unanimous.  The new message on I-40 West, mile-marker 269, will be installed this summer.  

“Community leaders have a long history of taking bold action that’s truly ahead of its time,” said Laurie Paolicelli, Community Relations and Tourism Director for Orange County whose department helped coordinate the slogan naming campaign.  “From protecting the environment by investing in parks, by-ways, river walks and trails, to nurturing the entrepreneurial spirit by investing in incubator space around the county – Orange County is a leader. 

In fact, Orange County was the first county in North Carolina to approve domestic partner benefits, to commit to a living wage, and to oppose the amendment banning gay marriage. 

In Orange County, the commitment to the inalienable rights of the individual goes back centuries, to the very beginning of this great country.  In this sense, Orange County has always been ahead of the curve. Consider some of the milestones:

  • In 1788, two hundred and twenty-eight years ago this July, North Carolina delegates met several times—most often in Hillsborough—to discuss the newly formed United States Constitution:  The Tar Heel State became the only state in the union to neither ratify nor reject the Constitution because of its failure to protect basic freedoms, leading to what would eventually become the Bill of Rights. 
  • Dissent has been alive and well on the UNC campus at least as far back as William Gaston, who spoke here for the abolition of slavery in 1832, and UNC professor and alumnus Benjamin Hedrick, who proclaimed himself an anti-slavery Republican supporter in 1856.
  • The Journey of Reconciliation challenged Jim Crow seating on interstate buses and trains throughout the upper South. Rev. Charles Jones, a white Presbyterian minister gave the Freedom Riders refuge in his Chapel Hill home and was threatened by a mob of white cabdrivers for doing so. The Journey of Reconciliation later served as the model and inspiration for the Freedom Rides of 1961.
  •  On May 6, 1969, Howard N. Lee (b.1934) was elected mayor of Chapel Hill, North Carolina. In doing so, he became the first African American elected mayor in a predominantly white southern town since Reconstruction.
  • Carrboro was the first municipality in the state to create a domestic partner registry and to extend eligibility for employment benefits to same-sex partners of Town employees; the first to elect a gay mayor (Mike Nelson1995-2005) and the first to elect a lesbian mayor, Lydia Lavelle, in 2013.
  • The Chapel Hill Town Council was the first in the state to support the repeal of the North Carolina Defense of Marriage Act.

History continually reminds that Orange County, North Carolina has always been on the side of freedom and equality -- ahead of the curve. 

About the Interstate Sign:

Upon learning that Orange County’s Interstate welcome sign was damaged and in need of replacement, the Board of Orange County Commissioners launched a contest in December, 2015 asking residents to help them name the I-40 Interstate sign (West Bound at mile marker 269)  that read: “Orange County: You’ll Be a Fan for Life.” More than 900 submissions were entered. The Commissioners worked with its Community Relations and Tourism Department to narrow the pool and help select a new welcome message.  The sign will be installed in summer 2016. 

Mock-up of new sign
0854 OCPA Highway Sign cropped