Local artist repaints sign attributed to urban legend
BERLIN — For the first time in 15 years, local artist Jim Adcock has touched up the sign he painted that has long been rumored to be the inspiration for the naming of the fictional town of Hale, Md. in the Hollywood film, "Runaway Bride."
The 1999 film that starred Julia Robers and Richard Gere is one of two Hollywood films filmed in historic downtown Berlin. The other full-length feature, Tuck Everlasting, was filmed in the town in 2002.
"When Reggie Mariner built the building, he wanted it to look old, so he installed rusty roofing and I distressed the paint," Adcock said.
Although the building — now Go Organic Grocer in the large parking lot off North Main Street — was fairly new 15 years ago, the structure looked as if it was decades old, especially after Adcock used skills such as chipping paint off.
"There actually was a Hale Harrison peach," said Adcock, in explaining his inspiration for the design.
The Harrison family helped the town prosper through its peach trade in the 1900s, and the annual Berlin Peach Festival is in honor of the family's trade.
Urban legend says when the producers of "Runaway Bride" came to Berlin, they saw the sign and liked the name so much, it was decided that the fictional town's name would be Hale, Md.
While the sign did not appear in the film, it was used as a wardrobe location during filming.
Although the sign is historic, residents began complaining about its deterioration, which prompted Reggie Mariner Jr., son of the previous owner, to have Adcock make it look just like new.
"To make it look new, I didn't distress anything this time," Adcock said.
As it still remains a contested fact if Adcock's sign was the true inspiration for the fictional town's name, the local artist remains humble in his work. The artist said he has never boasted that his sign was the reasoning for Berlin's Hollywood renaming.
"It's not like anyone would believe me, anyway," he said.