By Shawn Daley
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The glitz and glamour of Hollywood arrived in Apex in a most family friendly fashion.
The Peak City International Film Festival – Family Style held its inaugural gala Friday night at the Halle Cultural Arts Center.
Police escorted VIPs to the red-carpeted entrance as the bright glare of sweeping searchlights lit up the night sky.
Inside the center, evening gown-attired and tuxedo-clad attendees welcomed local celebrities such as WRAL’s Charles Gaddy and Mark Roberts along with stars of the upcoming kids’ TV show “The Rusty Bucket Kids Club.”
But the biggest star of the night was without doubt Jerry Mathers of “Leave It to Beaver” fame. The television icon shook hands, chatted with fans, and posed for countless photos throughout the evening.
Mathers was honored at the gala with a continuing lifetime achievement award – named a Gaddy Award – for his five decades of work in the entertainment industry.
In presenting the honor, film festival executive producer John Demers said it was important to note that it’s a “continuing” achievement award because Mathers is still achieving success.
Mathers joked that he really didn’t care what the award was called.
“I told him I’m just happy to get any type of award so it doesn’t matter,” said Mathers.
Speaking at the sold-out event, Mathers said he was proud of “Leave It to Beaver” and the family values it promoted. He added that more family-friendly shows were currently needed on television.
“There are very few shows that a family can watch together,” said Mathers. “It is producing a generation that knows so much more than we did as children. A lot of (current TV shows) are not good for them.”
Mathers also praised film festival organizers for promoting entertainment that an entire family can enjoy together.
Retired WRAL anchor Gaddy was also honored by having the award named after him.
“We needed to name it after someone gentle, endearing and of great integrity,” said Demers. “The (choice) was easy.”
“You see us when we are old and beaten down,” said Gaddy. “I just wish you could see us for the way we were.”
The audience did get the opportunity to once again see Gaddy in his prime as a short video highlighting his storied career at WRAL was shown.
“The Beav and Charlie Gaddy on the same stage,” said Roberts, who served as emcee. “That is cool.”
Mayor Keith Weatherly thanked the festival organizers for producing a “first class” event. He also said it was very appropriate to hold the festival in Apex.
“We are a family-oriented community,” said Weatherly. “That is what is so special about this event.”
Weatherly said he recalls being a child and watching “Leave It to Beaver” with his entire family.
Now, decades later, his daughter’s boyfriend reminds him of the show’s famous character Eddie Haskell.
“He will say. ‘Hello, Mr. Weatherly. Hello, Mrs. Weatherly.’ We have started calling him Eddie and he has no idea what we are talking about,” said Weatherly.
Festival organizers also used the gala to cross promote their kids’ show, “The Rusty Bucket Kids Club.”
Demers, who is executive producer of both projects, called the show “edu-tainment” because it teaches aspects of history while entertaining.
The entire show was filmed in downtown Apex, New Hill and Bonsal and features mostly local talent.
For more information visit www peakcityfilmfestival org or www therustybucketkidsclub com.
Read more: Apex Herald – Stars come out for local film festival