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Interest in Mount Airy grows following death of Andy Griffith

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SURRY COUNTY, N.C. -- The death of Andy Griffith has brought more interest and first time tourists to his hometown in Mount Airy.

"We had no idea he was born here," said Ron Filippi of Michigan who learned of the Mayberry ties to the Surry County city after reading about the actor’s death.

Area hotels say they've had more summer month reservations booked since his death, and businesses specializing in Mayberry memorabilia say they've seen an increase in first time visitors. 

"We've talked to people from all over the United States who travel I-77 and say they never knew that this was where Andy was born and raised until he passed away," said Darrell Miles, owner of Mayberry on Main.

"A lot of times, we'll have a lot of people passing -- going to the outer banks or myrtle beach -- and just stop --run in -- but since Andy's passing, sometimes they will make this a mid-point, or even spend the night," said Miles.

Restaurant owners say they've seen more tourist and the visitors center says more calls are coming in from people wanting to know more about Mount Airy.

City leaders believe the increase interest could also be fans of "The Andy Griffith Show" looking to find closure. 

The city hopes a public memorial service, in the works, will help fans dealing with the loss. 

The very private actor was laid to rest on his Roanoke Island estate about five hours after he died from a heart attack on July 3rd.