“Have you met my baby,” Fox 5 DC weatherman Tucker Barnes intoned, as he held “Jenna” – a doll from Lollipop Station.
Barnes was setting up for a live weather hit inside the store in Culpeper along East Davis Street. Behind him, a flash mob from Joi Moves danced with babies while Barnes struggled to put on a baby carrier for Jenna.
Seconds later, the shot was live and Barnes interviewed Lollipop Station owner Faith Gill before effortless reading the weather.
It was part of the station’s “Zip Trips” which brought the Fox 5 morning team to Culpeper Friday, showcasing East Davis Street and Culpeper’s characters.
Chuck Miller and Tim Smith, famous from Discovery Channel’s Moonshiners, mingled among the crowd while a giant sandwich wandered by.
Inside the sandwich, Al Esh of the Ole Country Store, mentioned how great it was to have Culpeper featured on regional TV.
“It’s real important,” Esh said. “With Culpeper being this close to Washington, D.C., we need people to come out here and enjoy the countryside. When you come out here, get a fresh sandwich and spend some time at Lake Pelham Adventures. It’s all part of our little hometown and I’m happy to be part of our hometown.”
Culpeper Tourism Director Paige Read zipped around the downtown locations, organizing and directing local celebrities as Fox 5 moved from business to business.
Read has been a whirlwind of activity in the weeks prior to the visit, and Friday was the culmination of months of planning for the TV segment.
“I couldn’t be happier with the turnout,” Read said. “Everyone came out and showed such good community pride. I couldn’t ask for anything more. This brings incredible awareness. This is a wonderful day showcasing the diversity and the authenticity of our community. I expect a wonderful turnout from the Northern Virginia area in the coming months just from today.”
Fox 5 crews canvassed Davis Street, bouncing from business to business to set up live shots and weather segments.
They interviewed Felecia Chavez at La Bee da Loca and then Barnes danced with the moms at Lollipop Station.
“They are very easy to work with,” Read said. “They have their program they like to run, but there’s some flexibility in there. I’m just thrilled we have all the product to be able to offer them. They really pay attention, they really want to know the people and they really want to know the stories.”
Culpeper has a multitude of characters to share. Citizens turned out in costumes and Tanom Motors owner Sandy Hall revved up the engine of one of the Invaders built here in Culpeper. Read said that some folks were nervous about going on air, but others were excited to share Culpeper’s stories.
Culpeper Mayor Mike Olinger and Town Councilwoman Jamie Clancey were thrilled to be able to highlight the area while being interviewed at 8:30 a.m.
“It’s got to be an impact on economic development,” Olinger said. “If you watch their ‘Zip Trips’ they do a great job segmenting what your community is about. Culpeper has a lot to offer.”
Barnes recognized that on a trip through the town in the spring. Passing through from Charlottesville, he stopped for lunch and noted that the station had to make Culpeper one of the stops on the Zip Trip tour.
“I absolutely love it,” Barnes said. “I feel a great sense of community and like everyone is your neighbor.”
He said the Zip Trips segment, which runs every Friday through the Friday before Labor Day, gives the broadcasters a chance to see the diversity in the area.
“We try to reach out and come out when we can to say thank you to our viewers and to just remind everyone that you’re part of the larger D.C. community,” Barnes said.
Barnes said he was honored to have a police escort from Culpeper Police Officer Mike Grant and raved about the food at Baby Jim’s Snack Bar.
Baby Jim’s owner Matt Corbin laughed when it was mentioned he was a local celebrity now that he was on the 6:30 a.m. weather segment.
“I wouldn’t say I’m a local celebrity,” Corbin said with a laugh. “We’re just doing what we can for our community. This is all about Culpeper.”
Barnes said it couldn’t happen to a nicer town, and he hopes more people from D.C. stop in.
“It’s a great day trip for a lot of people,” Barnes said. “Part of what we’re trying to do with these Zip Trips is to show people a place they can come down and explore for the day.”