John Atkins, architect for Durham County's new courthouse, remarked that Wednesday's ceremony was the most festive groundbreaking he'd ever attended.
There was a lot of joking going on, some intentional and some inadvertent.
For instance, commissioners' Chairman Michael Page said, "Groundbreaking for the new Durham County courthouse has been a long time coming.
"For centuries ... "
He had to wait for the laughs to be over to complete his sentence: " ... courthouses have provided a place for justice to be administered."
In a similar vein, County Manager Mike Ruffin said:
"One thing I've learned about working in Durham, you never do anything quickly."
Ruffin and Sheriff Worth Hill both made reference to their morning meeting on how much money Hill's department is getting next year.
"I think he's trying to pay for this new courthouse out of my budget," quipped Hill, who dressed for the occasion in a uniform-brown baseball cap with four gold stars on the front.
Using her turn at the podium to make a pitch for more lawyers in her office, District Attorney Tracey Cline invoked praying on bended knee.
"While one knee is thankful, the other knee is begging," she said.
Clerk of Court Archie Smith reminisced about growing up in the area and attending the old Morehead School that once stood near American Tobacco. He mentioned several childhood buddies, including John Atkins.
"I went to Watts School," Atkins said, and Smith came back:
"Oh, you were in the rich part of town."