Fooling Around

On April Fool’s Day the Ely Chamber made this announcement.

ELY, MINNESOTA – April 1, 2010 – Ely, Minn announces today it has, in conjunction with the Forest Service, signed a multi-year deal for naming rights to the legendary Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness (BWCAW). The new corporate sponsor will be Minnesota-based International Dairy Queen, Inc. (IDQ).
As of today, the region will be officially known as the International Dairy Queen Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness, or IDQBWCAW.

"Beautiful unspoiled wilderness doesn’t pay for itself," says Roger Skraba, Ely Mayor. "And who doesn’t have fond memories of a Dilly Bar? This will usher in an era of great corporate, tourism and environmental partnerships."

"We were looking for a way to promote the 25h birthday of our signature Blizzard Treat," says Michael Keller, Chief Brand Officer for IDQ. "When we thought about it, this made perfect sense. Ely has blizzards, we have Blizzards. They’re international, we’re international. They have a guy named Buster who hangs out at one of the local bars. We have a treat called the Buster Bar. It’s sort of serendipitous, actually."
The news today that International Dairy Queen had purchased the naming rights to the BWCAW and was renaming it the "IDQBWCAW" was met with a combination of bemusement, resignation and outright hostility – depending on what part of Ely you were in.

People polled along Ely’s main street were confused and startled by the decision of the US Forest Service and the town of Ely to sell the rights. Some were surprised that there had been no public discussion. Others saw it as the natural progression of corporate American slowly buying its way into every nook and cranny of our lives.

A group of Tower residents, in Ely for a weekly lunch gathering, were getting pretty worked up about the announcement. "I don’t know how the government can let this happen!" one young woman said between mouthfuls of mashed potatoes. "We work so hard to make this one of the most beautiful areas of the country, and we then we let the guys who sell Dilly Bars name it after themselves?!" However, after questioning, she admitted that she had enjoyed a Dilly Bar the night before – butterscotch, she fondly recalled.

One local resort owner, surveyed at a street corner as he pulled into Ely to buy supplies, was grateful for the influx of money. "This will go a long ways toward preserving this great national treasure. As long as they’re not thinking about setting up outposts in the BWCAW selling Peanut Buster Parfaits to hungry portagers, I don’t really see the problem," the man said, refusing to give his name. "Most of us will still call it the ‘BWCAW’ anyway, regardless of what the new name is."
Several high school students, interviewed between class finals, seemed more interested in talking about Spring Break, which begins tomorrow, April 2. One student, however, was planning on attending a rally this evening that was being hastily organized by several area churches and environmental groups.

The Ely Chamber of Commerce office reported record call volumes and reminded people to take a deep breath and consult the calendar.