LIFESTYLE

In wintry Minnesota, there’s a belief that every snowplow deserves a name

Jan 25, 2024, 9:12 PM

This image provided by the Minnesota Department of Transportation shows Plowy McPlowFace in St. Pau...

This image provided by the Minnesota Department of Transportation shows Plowy McPlowFace in St. Paul, Minn. Snowplows are essential to enduring winter in Minnesota, so maybe it's not surprising that every year thousands of people vote on names for the giant machines — everything from Plowy McPlowFace to Darth Blader. The often-icy state began naming its 800 plows in 2020 and will announce winners of its 2023-2024 Name a Snowplow contest next week, adding eight selections to more than three dozen names that already grace trucks already rumbling down the state's roads. (Minnesota Department of Transportation via AP)
Credit: ASSOCIATED PRESS

(Minnesota Department of Transportation via AP)

Snowplows are essential to enduring winter in Minnesota, so maybe it’s not surprising that every year thousands of people vote on names for the giant machines that clear the state’s roads, such as Plowy McPlowFace and Darth Blader.

The often-icy state began naming its 800 plows in 2020 and is expected to announce winners of its 2023-2024 Name a Snowplow contest early next week, adding eight selections to more than three dozen names that already grace trucks scraping snow off Minnesota highways.

“We definitely know snow in Minnesota, and anyone who lives up here knows the challenges of those conditions and the challenges of trying to keep roads safe for folks to travel during the winter,” said Anne Meyer, a spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, which hosts the contest.

The agency knew officials in Scotland had named snowplows for years and decided a similar effort in Minnesota might draw attention to their winter work, Meyer said.

The response in the first year of the contest was overwhelming, with about 24,000 submissions and 122,000 votes cast. Participation has dropped over the years but remains strong, with about 8,000 submissions for the latest contest.

Besides Plowy McPlowFace and Darth Blader, winners over the years include Blizzard of Oz, Scoop Dogg and Han Snolo. Top names often have Minnesota connections. F. Salt Fitzgerald was a nod to St. Paul-born author F. Scott Fitzgerald, while The Truck Formerly Known As Plow recognized musician Prince, who for a time famously declined to be recognized by a spoken name.

The response in Minnesota has prompted states and cities across the country to hold similar contests to name snowplows, from Alaska and California to Ohio and Massachusetts.

New Mexico launched its first name-a-snowplow contest this winter, drawing more than 1,500 submissions and 23,000 votes to name 12 of the state’s 400 plows. Winners included Sleetwood Mac, Mr. Snow it All and Billy the Skid, acknowledging the New Mexico roots of the gunslinger Billy the Kid.

“There’s a natural infatuation with (snowplows),” said Kristine Bustos-Mihelcic, a spokesperson for the New Mexico Department of Transportation. “They’re big, huge trucks. They look great on the road, and they are such a visual statement to the core of DOT, which is helping people get to their destination safely.”

Lincoln, Nebraska, also held its first snowplow-naming contest this year. More than 2,300 people voted to name eight city plows, with Clearopathra taking honors as the top selection.

“We hope this helps develop a closer relationship with people, and we can show them that we are human, too,” said Erika Hill, a spokesperson for Lincoln’s Transportation and Utilities department. “We’re laughing along with them about some of these great names.”

Plowy McPlowFace is a favorite in many of the contests, in part because it harkens back to a rejected online vote in 2016 to name a British polar research vessel Boaty McBoatface. Although that choice garnered more than three times the votes of its closest competitor, officials opted to name the ship after naturalist Sir David Attenborough.

Minnesota plans to keep its contest going in coming years and Meyer noted each plow keeps its name, which is displayed along the side of the vehicle.

“We’ve got 800 snowplows statewide for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, so we have a lot of snowplows to name,” Meyer said.

Lifestyle

Residents walk through the Petare neighborhood of Caracas, Venezuela, Tuesday, July 16, 2024. (AP P...

Associated Press

The uncertainty that plagues life in crisis-ridden Venezuela is also wreaking havoc on relationships

CARACAS, Venezuela (AP) — Victoria Estevez finally met someone who saw past her shyness. They spent two months learning about their likes and dislikes, texting about their families and friends, and walking around their hometowns on Venezuela’s Caribbean coast. On a trip to the capital in December, they held each other for the first time. […]

7 hours ago

Gracie Wiener poses for a photo with some of her tote bags in Washington Square Park in New York, W...

Associated Press

Historic utility AND high fashion. 80-year-old LL Bean staple finds a new audience as a trendy bag

FREEPORT, Maine (AP) — L.L. Bean created it 80 years ago to haul heavy blocks of ice. Now it’s a must-have summer fashion accessory. The simple, sturdy canvas bag called the Boat and Tote is having an extended moment 80 years after its introduction, thanks to a social media trend in which they’re monogrammed with […]

9 hours ago

Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret Servic...

Associated Press

Trump’s escape from disaster by mere inches reveals a tiny margin with seismic impact

NEW YORK (AP) — Jarring, chaotic and sudden, the bullet whizzed toward the stage where former President Donald Trump stood behind a podium speaking. In its wake: the potential for a horrifying and tragic chapter in American history. But the Republican presidential candidate had a narrow escape — mere inches, possibly less — in Saturday’s […]

2 days ago

FILE - An Amazon Prime cardboard shipping box label is seen on March 17, 2023, in East Derry, N.H. ...

Associated Press

Amazon Prime Day is a big event for scammers, experts warn

NEW YORK (AP) — Amazon Prime Day is here, and experts are reminding consumers to be wary of scams. Deceptions such as phony emails from people impersonating online retailers like Amazon are nothing new. But phishing attempts increase amid the heavy spending seen during significant sales events, whether it’s Black Friday or Prime Day, according […]

2 days ago

FILE - An Amazon worker delivers packages in Los Angeles on Oct. 1, 2020. July sales events have be...

Associated Press

Amazon Prime Day deals are almost here. Should you take advantage of them?

NEW YORK (AP) — It’s summertime, and the bargains seem easy at a time when many consumer prices are high. July sales events have become a seasonal revenue driver for the retail industry since Amazon launched its first Prime Day back in 2015. While consumers may be enticed by the advertised can’t-miss savings on some […]

4 days ago

Carlton Smith, left, and Justin Nimmo pose in from of the console of the Barton Opus 234 theater or...

Associated Press

Reviving Hollywood glamor of the silent movie era, experts piece together a century-old pipe organ

DETROIT (AP) — A massive pipe organ that underscored the drama and comedy of silent movies with live music in Detroit’s ornate Hollywood Theatre nearly a century ago was dismantled into thousands of pieces and stashed away. The Barton Opus, built in 1927, spent four decades stored in a garage, attic and basement in suburban […]

4 days ago

In wintry Minnesota, there’s a belief that every snowplow deserves a name