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Opening Night . . . in Springfield, Vermont


"We're so excited," said the president of the Springfield, Vt., Chamber of Commerce. And the state governor was moved to exclaim, "This is an exciting, exhilarating moment."

Had Springfield been chosen to host the Olympic Games or won the competition for a big, new factory? Was Springfield named America's most livable city, or the cleanest or smartest? Certainly something big had happened to this town of 9,300.

Springfield did indeed win a nationwide contest, one that can only confirm America's obsession with media and celebrities, even fictional ones.

It all relates to the popular television cartoon show called "The Simpsons," which is a satire — and an irreverent one — about a dysfunctional American family living in the make-believe town of Springfield. There's a new "Simpsons" movie opening on Friday, and its producers wanted to stage a special premiere in one of the 14 real "Springfields" across the nation.

So each of them was invited to put a video together, post it online, and let the public choose which Springfield would win. The one in Vermont — which beat out Springfields twice its size — dressed a local personality to look like the oafish cartoon patriarch, Homer Simpson, and sent him chasing after a giant doughnut through the center of town.

So the ecstatic people of Springfield, Vermont, put together what they called "big festivities" for the debut of the "Simpsons" movie at the one theater in town this past weekend. The governor urged the losing Springfields not to be too disappointed. With a statesmanlike flourish, and borrowing Homer Simpson's son Bart's favorite phrase, he told them, "Don't have a cow, man."

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