Heroes in the Park honors legacy of longtime Durham Mayor Bill Bell

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Saturday, October 28, 2017
A stylish sendoff for Durham's mayor
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Outgoing Durham Mayor Bill Bell was saluted at Friday night's Heroes in the Park celebration.

DURHAM, North Carolina (WTVD) -- Not every outgoing mayor gets a celebration with Kool and the Gang and a red carpet entrance, but that's the way Durham's Mayor Bill Bell is going out. Although he says it's really for the people of Durham.

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"Well they're here for Durham," said Bell, "I want people to have a good time. If the people have a good time, I'll have a good time."

Bell's daughter is behind Friday night's star-studded event called Heroes in the Park. It was held at Durham Athletic Park with a VIP cocktail hour at Rickhouse overlooking the field.

She called it a labor of love to honor heroes in the community who push to make a difference. She said her father fits that mold.

"He's humble and I don't think he's given it much thought," said Anjanee Bell.

Mayor Bell decided not to run for re-election and said it was time to say goodbye to his 16 years as mayor of Durham.

Mayor Bill Bell gives last State of the City message

During his time as mayor he said nothing could have been accomplished without the council and the people who were able to execute any changes they put in place.

"Certainly the revitalization of downtown Durham, what we're trying to do in inner-city neighborhoods, over in south side and over in east central Durham, all of that is a part of it, but it's a collective we," Bell said.

Friday's celebration didn't just have Kool and the Gang, but also Sheila E., Morris Day & The Time and YahZarah, who graduated from North Carolina Central University.

"This is my era, I'm going to sit back and enjoy it," Bell said.

He officially leaves office in early December. After that he will continue working and he started a foundation, the Bill and Judith Bell Foundation, to work with children.

Mostly, he said, he plans to spend more time with his six grandchildren.