Former Cary Council member Herbert C. Young Jr is most remembered for his kindness and efforts to further town recreational programs – and for wearing a red, white and blue top hat to greet residents on the Fourth of July.
On Sunday, Aug. 28, Cary’s beloved “Uncle Sam” will be honored at the 25th anniversary celebration of the town meeting place that bears his name – the Herbert C. Young Community Center in downtown Cary.
“Herb was kind, cared about people and he loved doing things for people,” said Gail Taylor, an administrative specialist with the town’s park, recreation and cultural resources department. “He was soft spoken, but got things done. Anything you wanted him to do, the man would do it.”
Young died in 2012 from Parkinson’s Disease at the age of 84.
A rededication of the community center will help kick off the second day of the Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival with music and a ribbon cutting. The ceremony will begin at 12:30 p.m. on the Mr. Roof stage, which is at the corner of Adams and North Academy streets.
Following the ribbon cutting, a timeline of the community center’s 25 years will be unveiled inside the facility. Free customer appreciation events will follow throughout the week.
Young’s namesake, which opened in 1991, was the first community center in Cary. It was originally named the Cary Community Center, but was renamed after Young in 2001 to honor the more than 50-year parks and recreation volunteer.
“He was pretty bowled over when that happened to begin with,” said Kay Struffolino, a longtime Cary volunteer. “He was the kind of person who would do anything and everything he could do for you, and he didn’t want recognition for it.”
Young’s love of sports and recreation stemmed from an early age. He lettered in three sports at Cary High School and won a regional Golden Gloves boxing event at the age of 17. He played center on the UNC-Chapel Hill football team in the late 1940s and later spent decades officiating local basketball and football games, which earned him a spot in the N.C. High School Sports Association’s Hall of Fame.
But Young, a longtime employee of Southern Bell Telephone Company, was most known for furthering recreation opportunities for children and adults of all ages through multiple avenues.
Young served on the Cary Town Council for nine years starting in the mid-1960s and on the town’s parks and recreation advisory board. He also opened Triangle Swim Club, a now closed pool, in 1970 to give people a place to have fun. He volunteered at every parks and recreation department event.
Struffolino still recalls him bringing breakfast biscuits to all of the volunteers at these events, including the Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival.
“He was attached heart and soul to the parks department,” she said.
Friends say he was one of the most giving and caring gentlemen they ever met. Young and his wife, Peggy, who died in 2012, had three children.
“I don’t think he ever knew a stranger,” said Cindi King, the town’s senior operations and programs supervisor for the community center.
Taylor remembers Young telling her stories of the way Cary used to be, even as his health began to decline. She said he once described walking down Academy Street when it was still a dirt road to catch a bus back to UNC-Chapel Hill.
Today, Taylor continues to visit him at Hillcrest Cemetery to talk to one of her closest friends.
“He just became a dear friend over the years,” she said. “He was just a very kind and giving soul.”
Today at the center
Four years after Young’s death, the Herbert C. Young Community Center remains one of Cary’s most popular spots to gather and play.
It features a double gymnasium called the Coach Kay Yow Court for athletic programs, fitness and activity classes, and large events, as well as two meeting rooms and more. Programs, camps and classes like Zumba, Pilates and table tennis are held there.
The center is home to the Cary Invasion, the town’s semiprofessional basketball team, which was founded in 2010. Today, the team draws average crowds of 300 people to the community center’s stands.
Other events also are held at the center, including Herbert’s Haunted House, Santa’s Workshop and the town’s annual employee recognition luncheon. It has held popular Cary cultural events like MLK Jr. Dreamfest and the Marvelous Music series. It has served on a poll site on election days.
“We’ve been a highlight of the downtown area, being right next to town hall and having offered a variety of programs and events to all ages,” King said.
Kathryn Trogdon: 919-460-2608
Celebrate the 25th anniversary
The Herbert Young Community Center is at 101 Wilkinson Ave. All of the events are free.
Sunday, Aug. 28: 12:30 p.m.: Rededication of the Herbert C. Young Community Center on the Mr. Roof Stage, which is at the corner of Adams and North Academy streets. Refreshments will be served.
Monday, Aug. 29: 9:30 a.m.: Pickleball; 7 p.m.: Line dancing
Tuesday, Aug. 30: 9:30 a.m.: Cardio fit; 10:45 a.m.: Seniors in motion; 6 p.m.: 20/20/20; 6 p.m.: Pilates; 7:15 p.m.: Ninjutsu demo
Wednesday, Aug. 31: Noon: Open gym adult basketball; 3:30 p.m.: Youth basketball; 6 p.m.: Table tennis
Thursday, Sept. 1: 7:15 p.m.: Zumba. Customer appreciation day. Refreshments will be served
Lazy Daze Arts and Crafts Festival
The festival continues today with nearly 400 vendors, arts and crafts booths and food trucks, Thirty-five bands and entertainers will perform on five different stages. Kids World will be between Town Hall and the Cary Police Department with storytelling, games, magician and crafts.
When: 12:30-5 p.m. on Sunday, Aug. 29. The event is held rain or shine.
Where: Cary Town Hall Campus, at 316 N. Academy St.
How to get there: Free shuttle starts at 8:30 a.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday. The last buses leave the festival at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and 5:30 p.m. on Sunday. They leave from Cary Towne Center, 1105 Walnut St., and Green Hope High, 2500 Upchurch Road. Follow signs for the shuttle. All fixed C-TRAN routes will be free on Saturday only. Fixed route service does not operate on Sundays.
Parking: Public parking in downtown Cary will be limited due to construction. Limited parking will be available at the church parking lot at the corner of Waldo and Walker streets, across from First United Methodist Church of Cary; in the church parking lot of First Baptist Church, which is accessible from South Academy Street or South Harrison Avenue; or in the parking lot behind the Cary Arts Center. This lot is accessible by Faculty Street. Limited handicapped accessible parking is in the Fire Department administration parking lot. Approach the lot via South Academy Street. Call 919-469-4061.
Information: Go to www.townofcary.org and search “Lazy Daze” to find a map of the festival, or find the festival at Facebook.com/caryartdaze.