Springfield is ready for its close-up

07/20/07 12:00AM By Betty Smith-Mastaler
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(Host) Just one week ago, Springfield Vermont won an on-line competition to host tomorrow's "hometown premiere" of the new Simpson movie, catapulting the small town into the international spotlight, and touching off a frantic race to get ready for the big day. VPR's Betty Smith stopped by to see how things are going.

(Smith) It's not every day that a world premier comes to town, and all up and down Main Street there's a flurry of final preparations. A big banner reads: Welcome to Springfield, Vermont, Home of the Simpsons. A sign in a store window says: Welcome Home Homer.

(Trowel sounds)

(Smith) In front of the movie theater, Larry Sheehan and a co-worker from Springfield's Highway Department mix cement and trowel it onto the sidewalk.

(Sheehan) "We're putting quick drying cement in the cracks and holes in the sidewalk for the Homer Simpson premiere which is on Saturday. It's very quick drying so I got to keep busy. Yesterday we trimmed the hedges and we got to sweep the area where the premiere is going to be. Trying to pretty the town."

(Smith) Down the street, Town Clerk Bonnie Reynolds is taking a break from signing up vendors for the Street Fair. This morning alone, she's issued 25 vendor licenses and she thinks things are looking good.

(Reynolds) "The Public Works Department is doing a great job sprucing up downtown Springfield. I just passed a couple of the workers with a torch just cleaning up the grass on the sidewalk a little bit and they're planning on sweeping the streets early, early Saturday morning, so it's looking very nice, and the merchants too are participating. I'm seeing flower boxes appearing and people are just putting mulch down around their buildings so everyone is playing a role in preparing for The Simpsons."

(Smith) Just down the street from the movie theater, Tami Thomas of Apron Strings Caf has ordered extra food. But it's hard to know how much will be enough when estimates of how many people may show up on Saturday range anywhere from five to ten thousand.

(Thomas) (laughs) "I don't know, I have, let's see, I ordered about 20 pounds of coffee - not that that'll be gone in one day, but it should hold us out for the day at least. I hope."

(Smith) Over at the Springfield Town Library, Children's Librarian Cheryl Cox says there's been more talk in the library about the Simpson event than even the new Harry Potter book.

(Cox) "I think The Simpsons is ahead in Springfield. Though we do have our die-hard Harry Potter fans, there's more excitement about The Simpsons."

(Smith) So far, the only big-name celebrity confirmed to attend is Simpson's creator Matt Groening, but rumors are flying. Meanwhile, work continues on everything from traffic and crowd control to final aesthetic touches. For Pat Chaffee of the Chamber of Commerce it's been a whirlwind week,

(Chaffee) "Yesterday the town went out and cut - at least trimmed - those shrubs out in front of Penelope's and the movie theater. And we're in the process of getting everything cleaned up and straightened out and we'll hang some bows and balloons for the big event so we're dressing ourselves up and it should look good. I guess Springfield's ready for its close-up."

(Smith) In Springfield, hometown of the Simpsons, it's lights camera action.

For VPR News, I'm Betty Smith.
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