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Thursday, October 17, 2013
This past summer we had a lot of fun suggesting names for the new Amtrak train that’s coming to Roanoke. An update on those efforts is later in this column.
In the meantime, we have yet another transportation icon to dream up a name for. I refer you to a story from Sunday’s paper by my colleague Jeff Sturgeon.
It seems Roanoke Regional Airport is considering changing its name to either Roanoke-Blacksburg Airport or Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport or something stodgy and unimaginative like that.
The impetus behind this appears to be that, even in this modern age of Google maps, people don’t realize that Blacksburg is near Roanoke and this causes great confusion.
There are several problems with the suggestions above, of course. For starters they’re unfair to all the other towns and villages around, such as Lithia and Boones Mill and Floyd, not to mention Fincastle and Salem and Vinton and Bedford and Rocky Mount and others.
In the spirit of inclusiveness, we must do better. My idea is the Blacksburg-Iron Gate-Lithia-Ironto-Callaway-Kimbalton Airport. (In case you didn’t know, Kimbalton is near Ripplemead, which is near Pearisburg, which is near Pembroke — and now we’re working our way back toward Blacksburg, which is part of the airport folks’ point, right?)
The wonderful thing about that tongue twister is the acronym spells BIG LICK, which always was much better than its successor name.
Let’s face it, “Roanoke” has never really put us on the map. Instead, it’s created a big ball of confusion with the North Carolina island of Lost Colony infamy.
Just think of all the occasions you’ve told some outsider you live in Roanoke and they respond, “Oh, I LOVE the Outer Banks!” If each of us had a nickel for every time we heard that, we could all retire.
Of course, BIG LICK Airport would need a new logo. I suggest poaching The Rolling Stones’ lips and tongue thingy. We could change the color to blue (for the Blue Ridge Mountains).
If Mick Jagger stirred up a fuss, we’d hire Blacksburg intellectual property lawyer Keith Finch, who in the Hokie Real Estate case beat Virginia Tech’s four law firms like dusty rugs. Perhaps Finch could settle the case for a three-hour Stones concert in the new Elmwood Park amphitheater.
The famous Kinsey Crane & Sign Co. could fabricate and install the new sign. It would go down in aviation-branding history as the most salacious and sexy airport logo ever. I’ll design and sell the T-shirts: “I joined the Mile-High Club on a flight from BIG LICK.”
Next we’d have to do away with “Regional.” In aviation parlance, that’s code for hick town, podunk, nowheresville. And we are not anything like Lynchburg. In its place we should add “International” for prestige and flair.
Of course, we could not lie about that. Otherwise, WSLS’ “Ten on Your Side” might investigate the scandal. So we would have to add one international flight per week.
Aside from Tennessee, Bermuda is the closest foreign soil. It has nine spectacular golf courses, which means the members of Hidden Valley, Hunting Hills and Roanoke country clubs would keep those planes full all by themselves. The only drawback is it would be tough to get an appointment with a doctor or dentist here in town.
So what? We would have BIG LICK International Airport, which would be way less boring and identity-eating than — yawn — Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport.
Here’s the important part: there are plenty of other and better names out there. Email me yours, with the subject line “airport name.” Include your name, and the reasoning, and your locality and we’ll review the best in a future column.
Now for the Name That Train update. For this I am indebted to Dan “Train Man Dan” Peacock of Manassas, who had the idea for naming the train in the first place.
If you recall, we came up with 168 different names. Peacock forwarded them to Amtrak, then called and grilled its director of branding and promotion, Deborah Varnado. Here is his report:
“n Amtrak already has a system for naming new trains, by committee.
“n She could not provide me a written set of guidelines for the process.
“n Amtrak gives weight to a state if the train is state-supported. They are also concerned about any legal issues regarding the name.
“n She will be involved in the ‘committee system’ to name future trains. She offered to bring to the attention of the committee my suggestion for an alternative naming process.
“n I might be able to pitch the idea to Virginia rail officials.”
In other words, the bureaucrats at Amtrak are almost completely heartless and humorless and chances are slim our earnest train-naming efforts will go anywhere.
Let’s hope the Roanoke Regional Airport folks are a different breed.
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