SPRINGFIELD, Vt. -- With a bowling alley, a pub, a prison, and a nuclear power plant just down the road, this city likes to think itself a real-life alter ego to the home of "The Simpsons."
Now, the city is going all out to prove it, joining Springfield, Mass., and 12 other Springfields from across the nation in a contest, with the winner hosting the big-screen premiere of "The Simpsons Movie" July 26. The public will choose the winner in a USA Today online poll. Voting ends July 9, with the winner announced the next day. The movie hits theaters July 27.
The competition is stiff.
Springfield, Ill., has its own power plant, run by a man who looks a lot like Mr. Burns, head of the nuclear power plant on the show, said Tim Farley, executive director of the city's convention and visitors' bureau. The high school is nearly identical and the city is not far from Shelbyville, the town next to the fictional Springfield, he said.
"We feel like Springfield has a lot of curious similarities," Farley said. But folks in Springfield, Ore., the home state of Simpsons creator Matt Groening, always thought it was their Springfield on the Fox TV show. "It was a shock that we had to prove it," said Niel Laudati, community relations coordinator.
Every Springfield in the nation was invited to take part . Some had a cow over the idea.
Springfield, Minn., declined, saying it was nothing like the dysfunctional one on the TV show. As the June 28 submission deadline approaches, the Springfields aren't giving away many details, just upping the ante. "We just got Senator Kennedy to be in our Simpsons video," said David Horgan, producer of the effort in Springfield, Mass. "I can't give it away, but he's hilarious."
Last week, more than 300 people showed up to be in the final scene. "We had a hair salon, dyeing hair blue," and piling it up like Marge Simpson's hairdo, said Azell Murphy Cavaan, community relations director.