Wineka column: ‘Crazy’ Salisbury is definitely the perfect choice for Sleepy Hollow

  • Posted: Wednesday, March 20, 2013 12:44 a.m.

SALISBURY — Welcome to Sleepy Hollow, where the women are strong, the men are good looking and we’re all crazy for Jesus.

Or maybe just crazy.

As you’ve heard by now, film crews for a television pilot, “Sleepy Hollow,” have taken over downtown Salisbury this week — at least at night they have.

Somewhere there must be a Hall of Fame for location scouts — the people who choose backdrops for where movies and television shows are filmed — and right now they are preparing portraits on the wall for the people who decided on Salisbury for Sleepy Hollow.

They found a town right out of “Inherit the Wind.”

Think of what they’ve seen, just in the last couple of days.

On Saturday morning, a bunch of women brandishing rakes, pitchforks, shovels, hatchets and broomsticks marched and chanted down Innes and Main streets.

They were re-enacting the 1863 Bread Riot, when the wives and mothers of Confederate soldiers raided stores in protest of inflationary war prices.

Saturday night, a guy stole a car marked as a Sleepy Hollow patrol vehicle and was later stopped for speeding and driving while impaired. Maybe he was our Mayberry version of Otis Campbell.

Then on Monday night, the first day of full-fledged filming for “Sleepy Hollow,” more than 100 people showed up at the marble-columned county administration building to defend Rowan County commissioners’ practice of beginning their meetings with prayers to their individual lord and savior, Jesus Christ.

Supporters offered many amens, tears and applause at Monday’s meeting, as commissioners decided to hire an outside attorney and fight an American Civil Liberties Union lawsuit against their sectarian prayer practices all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The song “Jesus is the Sweetest Name I Know” rose up from the crowd. A pastor presented one of those freakishly large checks for $10,000 to show commissioners people were ready to back their battle financially.

The same pastor proposed a litmus test for all government officials in the county. Where do they stand on prayer? It’s mindful of an exchange between characters Matthew Harrison Brady and Henry Drummond in “Inherit the Wind.”

Brady: “We must not abandon faith! Faith is the most important thing!”

Drummond: “Then why did God plague us with the capacity to think?”

One speaker Monday night predicted that with all the spirit and fight in Rowan County, the ACLU eventually will pack up and go home, saying on its way out, “These people are crazy for Jesus.”

Others prayed for the ACLU in Jesus’ name, although at least one resident charged the ACLU with being started by communists and operating with a left-wing agenda.

Salisbury couldn’t be more perfect for a town named Sleepy Hollow.

For television producers, the stars aligned and gave them everything they were looking for — quirkiness, passion, infrastructure, characters, even a bit of small-town craziness.

Finding extras for the TV show will never be a problem.

“Sleepy Hollow,” the television version, is supposed to be a supernatural story of Washington Irving’s Ichabod Crane, time-traveling between modern-day Sleepy Hollow and the 1800s version, fighting his battles of good vs. evil.

If the pilot succeeds, the rest of the FOX series will be filmed here.

We have what they need. Grand, old churches on every corner. Stately government buildings. Old monuments to wars past. A new burrito restaurant. Even our newspaper office, the renamed Sleepy Hollow Register.

Again, I’m thinking of “Inherit the Wind.” I’m picturing myself as E.K. Hornbeck, the reporter a Baltimore newspaper sends down to cover the trial against the teaching of evolution in 1925.

Spencer Tracy’s character, Henry Drummond, tells the reporter played by Gene Kelly, “Hornbeck, I’m getting tired of you. You never push a noun against a verb without trying to blow something up.”

You might think I’m preparing to blow things up in the space I have left, but I can’t.

You have to take us folks in Sleepy Hollow the way we are.

Yes, we live in the past a lot. Yes, we can be overbearing. (Hornbeck once said of Matthew Brady, “He’s the only man I know who can strut sitting down.”)

Yes, you have to watch us. We might take your car for a joy ride.

Yes, we have plenty of public, good-vs.-evil squabbles, always have.

But overall, we’re a friendly bunch, gracious and happy to be Sleepy Hollow for even a week.

We have good people, good restaurants and good architecture. We still have a newspaper. We treat history with respect. We have some courageous, principled residents in our midst — the three plaintiffs in the ACLU suit particularly — but also the commissioners and others standing up for what they believe.

In the end, I think things will work themselves out.

“Sleepy Hollow” will become a popular, long-running series.

We’ll eat more burritos.

We’ll get more drunks off the road.

And we’ll use our capacity to think.

If we don’t, only one thing can happen in Sleepy Hollow:

Heads will roll.

Contact Mark Wineka at 704-797-4263,or

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