[11 July 2007]
Chicago Tribune (MCT)
CHICAGO - Springfield, Ill., may have suffered a blow to its civic pride Tuesday as voters in a highly-watched online poll decided it was not the prototype for America’s most dysfunctional, polluted and goofball-infested community. Illinois’ capital city had to settle for being the runner-up, losing out to tiny Springfield, Vt.
In a publicity stunt to promote the upcoming release of its new Simpson’s movie, 20th Century Fox enlisted 14 U.S. cities named Springfield to compete for the honor of being declared the town most like the imaginary Springfield that is the setting for the long running TV satire. The show features a running gag which drops tantalizing and contradictory clues about the locale of the Simpsons’ Springfield.
Vying to host the premiere of the movie, each of the Springfields produced a short video bragging about why it was most like its cartoon namesake, a place filled with hapless, conniving boobs. Springfield, Ore., enlisted skateboarding legend Tony Hawk to star in its project and Springfield, Mass., got a cameo from Sen. Edward Kennedy, D-Mass., while the Springfield, Ill., video boasted an Abraham Lincoln look-alike and a retired local TV news anchor sometimes compared to Ted Baxter of the old Mary Tyler Moore sitcom.
Simpsons fans were asked to view the videos and vote for their favorite contender on the USA Today Web site.
“We worked pretty hard at getting the word out that Springfield, Illinois is truly the home of Homer and Marge Simpson,” Mayor Tim Davlin said after the results were in. “I would have to say the support for our city has been overwhelming.”
Not quite. In an electoral twist that perhaps only a veteran vote counter in the statehouse could appreciate, the Vermont city of 9,000 netted more than 15,000 votes in the online poll. Known best as the place where the spring clothes pin was invented, Springfield, Vt., beat out the Illinois Springfield - more than ten times its size and with all that Lincoln mojo working for it - by 733 votes.
Patricia Chaffee, vice president of the Vermont Springfield’s Chamber of Commerce, credited the win to the climax of the town’s video, which featured a mob of 300 people chasing a Homer Simpson look-alike after he chased a big, pink rolling doughnut through the community.
Its not the first time Springfield, Vt., has gained a somewhat dubious honor. During World War II, the community was home to a munitions factory. “We were 7th on the list of places Hitler wanted to bomb if he ever attacked the East Coast,” Chaffee explained.