Rumor Has It…

A true-or-false look at Cary’s reputation

Amid all the good things Cary is known for are a few, well, rumors you’ve likely heard that cast it in a less-than-perfect light.  

In defense of our beloved hometown’s reputation, we launched an unofficial investigation into these rumors, to determine what’s fact and what’s fiction.

The answers might surprise you!


True or False: Cary is boring.

FALSE. How else to explain a ramped-up, year-round public skate park?

Sk8-Cary offers anything-but-dull fun for skateboarders, in-line skaters and BMX riders, with 12,000 square feet of ramps, rails to grind and ledges to slide.

Annual and 30-day memberships are available but not required, beginners’ classes are held on Saturday mornings, and pad and helmet rentals are offered. Spectators are welcome, too.

Prefer a no-wheels form of excitement?

Be part of the talent that comes to town from across the U.S., via the Cary Ballet Conservatory.

Home to the Cary Ballet Company and jazz-based The 3D Project, the conservatory offers sessions from the Aspiring Dancer Workshop to the annual JazzFest.

You can also study with visiting ballet masters or spectate at happenings like the Celebration of Children in the Arts, held each year on the first Saturday of October.   

Sk-8 Cary
Godbold Park  |  2040 NW Maynard Road     
(919) 380-2970

Cary Ballet Conservatory
3791 NW Cary Parkway | (919) 481-6509


True or False: Cary can be a tough place to start a business.

BOTH. It depends on who you ask.

Dairy Queen franchisee Andrew Valkanoff, owner/operator of three Wake County stores, saw seven revisions to the renovation plans for his Cary restaurant, including restrictions on signage sizes and placement.  

“Dairy Queen spends millions developing its design elements, then the town says ‘They don’t fit our concept.’ As a franchisee I had to foot the bill to adapt them,” Valkanoff said. “The town doesn’t always understand the impact of those decisions on small businesses.”

The restrictions make it harder to interact with the community in which he hosts fundraisers and supports school teams. Print and broadcast advertising are expensive options in this top media market.

Kristen Rice-Gira, office manager at Gather, prepares a classic Japanese tea.

“I want the ability to communicate and compete in a manner that’s cost-effective,” Valkanoff said. “Most small business owners want to be part of the community.”

Valkanoff recently entered into conversation with town leaders on ways to improve onsite marketing options.

Despite the challenges, he’s pleased with customer response in Cary, which he calls an “incredible marketplace.”

“It’s worth it to me to fight for that,” he said.

On the flip side of the entrepreneurial experience, Michelle Smith found it easy to launch her co-working space, coffee shop and boutique, Gather, in downtown Cary.

Photo Caption: Dairy Queen owner Andrew Valkanoff calls Cary an “incredible marketplace” worth the struggle for signage.

“Having done business in both Raleigh and Durham, I’ve found the Town of Cary’s process quite easy in comparison,” she said. “And I appreciate that Cary has incentives like the street facade grant.

“On numerous occasions when I have had to file permits they’ve expedited the process for me, and have really worked hard to streamline it as much as possible. I have been pleasantly surprised.”

Though drawing customers can be a challenge, Smith chose Gather’s location knowing Cary leaders are focused on downtown development.

“There’s a vibrant community here, and the town really cares about maintaining its charming downtown and bringing new life into it,” she said.

“I think Cary has a reputation of being very conservative, homogenous and divided. However, I have found the opposite to be true.”  

Dairy Queen
631 Walnut St. | (919) 465-2100  

111 W. Chatham St. | (919) 247-2964


True or False: Cary is an acronym for Concentrated Area of Relocated Yankees.

FALSE. Yes, most Caryites started life somewhere else — the Town of Cary reports that only 2 percent of residents are natives. But that doesn’t mean everybody’s from “up North.”

The latest census data we found suggests that just over 29 percent of Cary’s population is native to North Carolina, meaning 70 percent were born in other states or nations.

Nearly a quarter of Cary’s population is school-age children, while its fastest-growing demographic is people of retirement age. And Cary’s largest minority, its Asian population, tripled during the 1990s.

2013 Cary Diwali celebration at Koka Booth Amphitheatre.

No matter the ratios of Cary natives to “Yankees” or worldwide transplants, the upside is that we all come together to create Cary’s very own melting pot.

For example, per your votes in the 2014 Cary Magazine Maggy Awards, favorite local restaurants represent culinary styles from down-home Southern barbecue to genuine New York-style pizza, with generous helpings of Mediterranean, Asian and Indian in the mix.

Local social life benefits from this mix of cultures, too: Cary’s events scene includes everything from this month’s family-friendly Festival Ritmo Latino to autumn’s Hindu Festival of Lights, the Diwali Celebration.

Festival Ritmo Latino
Saturday, May 31
Noon to 7 p.m., Downtown


True or False: Cary is strictly suburban.

FALSE. While Cary does stand as a delightfully suburban counterpart to downtown Raleigh dwelling, singles and families can live city-style in this town, too.

Photo Caption: Live-work-play communities bring city-style living to Cary. 

If you favor walkable shopping and dining, and amenities from greenways to grocery stores and healthcare providers, Cary presents urban live-work-play opportunities in residential villages such as The Bradford, The Bristol and Stone Creek Village.

The Bristol is set on Cary’s border with Morrisville, in the growing Park West Village shopping and entertainment center. Living options include urban-style flats, two-story loft units, two-bedroom carriage homes, and three-bedroom apartment homes.

Stone Creek Village, featuring luxury townhomes and hotspot eateries like Café Caturra and Tribeca Tavern, is located at High House Road and Davis Drive.

And now leasing in that same section of town is brand-new neighborhood The Bradford.

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