It was a party atmosphere in downtown Augusta as Mayor Garnett Johnson held his inaugural Masters’ Reception Sunday at the Augusta Common.
Music, food trucks, a children’s play area and special presentations were part of the event.
“Happy Masters’ Week,” Johnson said in opening the ceremony. “It gives me great honor to put on an event to kick off Masters Week.”
One of the honorees was Danny Willett, 2016 Masters Champion, to whom Johnson gave a key to the city.
“Honestly, I didn’t realize this many people would be here,” said Willett to the hundreds of people gathered. “I was expecting a small, quiet gig.”
Johnson wasn’t the only mayor who took the stage at the common. Joining Johnson was Aiken Mayor Rick Osbon and North Augusta Mayor Briton Williams as well as Columbia County Commission Chairman Doug Duncan.
Johnson honored Walton Buzzy Johnson, who served as the Masters Tournament senior director for more than 30 years, with the inaugural Mayor’s Distinguished Community Service Award.
“You have gone far above and beyond everything we’ve asked you to do, and it has been so beneficial to the city of Augusta,” he said.
Duncan said Buzzy Johnson’s work has made a huge impact.
“If there’s a single person in this community that’s had an impact on economic development, it’s been you because you have engaged the community along with your role at the Augusta National,” he said.
Garnett Johnson presented Buzzy Johnson with a key to the city as well as the award, and Williams gave Buzzy Johnson a painting of the Hampton Terrace Hotel by Edward Rice.
“I appreciate this award. I was very much surprised by this. I’m not used to being out front on anything,” he said. “Being a local here I was fortunate enough to put in a position where I could do some help. But obviously my employer the Augusta National, and the people I worked with and the great members there I was just able to be part of many things, and they afforded me that opportunity.”
Also recognized at the reception were two high school teams.
Williams had thanked Garnett Johnson for realizing there’s just “a river,” not “a brick wall” separating Augusta and North Augusta. One of the teams Johnson honored was from across that river – the state champion North Augusta High School girls’ basketball team, winning five championship titles in the past seven years.
Also, the Westside High School boys’ basketball team has won back-to-back state titles.
The other government officials included in the reception thanked Garnett Johnson for allowing them to participate.
“He’s reaching out across all spectrums trying to bring people together, and isn’t that what success is really about?” said Duncan.
Several bands played during the event including students from the James Brown Academy of Musik Pupils and Tres Sounds performed during the night.
The reception was capped with fireworks.
Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at email@example.com
Mike Adams is a multiple Georgia Press Association award-winning photographer