Wednesday, July 11, 2007

My Mom Is Proud: Her Hometown Is Selected For the Premiere Of The Simpson's Movie!

My Mom grew up here. My Grandfather started the first Russian Orthodox church there. They lived on the hill above downtown. Not primarily thought of as a visitor destination, because of its location just off of I-91, Springfield is a major stop for those traveling the Interstate and if you're taking the Vermont Country roads and you've just gone through Manchester then Chester, well, Springfield is a big thing. And today, a nationwide USA Today contest announced that my mom's hometown, was proclaimed the official hometown of TV's favorite dysfunctional family, the Simpsons.

Springfield, Vt., wasn't even among the original Springfields invited by Twentieth Century Fox to compete. The southeastern Vermont community beat out 13 other Springfields for the honor, which includes hosting the premiere of "The Simpsons Movie" on July 26th. An online poll on the USA Today Web site inviting people to vote for their favorite among 14 videos submitted by the competing Springfields. Springfield, Vt., came late to the competition, getting in after the head of the local Chamber of Commerce saw a news report on it and asked to be involved. Springfield, Vt., got 15,367 votes. Springfield, Ill., came in second with 14,634 votes. Springfield, Ore., was third with 13,894. The Vermont town of 9,300 will host the premiere at Springfield Theater on Main Street July 21 with the movie's filmmakers on hand to walk the yellow carpet. "We're so excited," said Patricia Chaffee, vice president of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce. "We came in at the last minute, and for us to win, we feel like the underdogs, which makes this so big and so great for us."

The town of 9,300 was the smallest in population among the communities entered. It put together a video showing a local TV personality playing Homer Simpson and chasing a giant, pink doughnut through the town. Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas issued a statement congratulating the town. "This is an exciting, exhilarating moment for Vermonters," he said. "Perhaps more importantly, it proves there's really nothing a giant doughnut can't do. To all the other Springfields, I say "Don't have a cow, man."

The winning entry took two days to film with help from the Vermont Film Commission. It begins much like the opening sequence of the TV show, with the familiar theme song playing as Vermont's Homer chases a giant doughnut (actually an inner tube designed by a local graphic artist) through the town, causing mayhem wherever he goes. The townspeople chase after him until they are beckoned into the movie theater, where they sit down for the premiere of The Simpsons Movie.

Liz Clapperton, a local waitress, heard the news on the phone from her excited 14-year-old son, Jordan. "My son was yelling, "We won, we won, we won,' " Clapperton said. "We won what? The megabucks? That's what I thought the way he was screaming." Judi Martin taped giant yellow letters on the Springfield Copy Center's front window announcing, "We won," in case there was any doubt. Martin couldn't remember the last time anything created such a stir in town. "I heard a little scuttlebutt at the bank," she said. "People were buzzing, not that it takes much to buzz in a small town." Now its residents are planning to turn their town, granted a charter in 1761 in the Connecticut River Valley of southern Vermont, into their version of Hollywood as they host the official premiere of The Simpsons Movie July 21 at the76-year-old Springfield Theater.

The town could use the attention, residents say. Once a hub for Vermont's machine tool industry, Springfield fell into a slow decline in the 1980s and '90s as the plants shut down. Only one major machine tool company remains. "This is an area that is fairly depressed," said Brad Blitzstein, a machinist who lives in town. "There are a lot of people here that make you go, 'D'oh!' "

This small town has a lot of heart and one hell of a memory. It's a town with a lot of heart. My Mom hasn't lived there in 60 years. When a letter arrived for my Grandfather from Russia, even though he's been dead for 50 years, someone at the Post Office actually remembered my Mom lived in Albany, NY and traced her down to get her the letter! That's what small town life is all about.

If you're ever in Vermont, check out this town. There's not much to it. But I am glad they won because they need the boost in their economy. I called my Mom in New York last night and even she had heard the news and was excited. And for a lady of 80 years, that's pretty amazing to me. So to my Mom, and all those of Springfield, Vermont...Congratulations!