Springfield, VT wins "The Simpsons" movie premiere contest

07/10/07 12:00AM By Betty Smith-Mastaler
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(Host) Homer and Marge, and Bart and Lisa are headed to Springfield - and that's Springfield, Vermont.

With 15,367 votes, the southern Vermont town won the online competition to host the premiere of the new Simpsons movie on July 21st.

The town was one of 14 Springfields from around the country that participated in the contest put on by USA-Today and Twentieth Century Fox.

VPR's Betty Smith was on hand when the call came in.

(Smith) Just before two o'clock, Patricia Chaffee of the Springfield Regional Chamber of Commerce was staying close to her phone and computer screen, waiting to hear whether or not Springfield had won its bid to host the premiere of the new Simpson movie.

(Chaffee) "I've had quite a few phone calls today. A lot of people are wondering how we're doing and when we'll hear. They could call but I'm keeping my eye on the website cause it could be there first. It depends on the communication, you know but it'll be one or the other."

(Smith) Two o'clock came and went but the website didn't change. Then the phone rang and Chaffee answered.

(Chaffee) "Okay, we won. Oh yes it is. Vermont wins its Superman contest right there in broad daylight. Breaking news. Okay. Okay hold on. Yes it's right there. So we win. (claps) We win!"

(Smith) The phone began to ring steadily and secretary Linda Merriman started fielding calls from all over the country. Chaffee was clearly excited, but she was also looking ahead.

(Chaffee) "We're going to have a lot of work to do. Word was that the premiere could be as early as the 21st. So we've got some work to do to get things organized. Hopefully we'll fill up the hotels and restaurants and everyone will get a piece of the action."

(Smith) Many people contributed to Springfield's success, from local volunteers to Governor Douglas, who made a pitch for Vermonters to participate in the voting, and who offered his congratulations on hearing the news.

(Douglas) "It's a real Cinderella story because we weren't even invited to participate at first until Patty Chaffee from the Chamber of Commerce called up and said, Hey, we were to be part of this competition' and lo and behold we pulled it out."

(Smith) But most of all, Chaffee attributes their success to the spirit of the town.

(Chaffee) "Well we're not necessarily the home of the Simpsons, but we have the most Simpson home town spirit."

(Smith) For VPR News, I'm Betty Smith.

(Host) The second and third place winners in the contest were Springfield, Illinois, and Springfield, Oregon. Springfield, Massachusetts, came in fourth.
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