Imagine this: You’re driving down a Kentucky highway trying to get home sometime this winter after Mother Nature covered your area in a blanket of snow. As you creep along you see headlights in the distance heading the opposite direction. As the lights draw closer, you see a rooster tail of snow being thrown into the air and realize it’s one of the state’s snow plows out doing its job of trying to clear the road for drivers like you. As it passes you, you glance over to take a look and notice a name displayed across its side. Is it the driver’s name? Nope. It’s the name of the plow itself, and it’s a name created by residents like you.
Kentucky Transportation Cabinet Announces “Name the Plow” Program
The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet (KYTC) announced it is giving residents of the Bluegrass State the opportunity to name 14 of the state’s 1,365 plows that operate when the weather calls for snow. One from each of the state’s 12 districts and two tow plows from the Franklin County-based KYTC strike force will be given names.
Will One of Them be Named Plowy McPlowface?
Back in 2016, the Natural Environment Research Council (NERC) in Britain gave residents the opportunity to name a new research ship it had recently added that would be used to explore the arctic. Harmless, right? Why not give the public a chance to be excited about what this ship may discover by letting them have some “ownership” of it? Well, it didn’t take long for the internet to make a mockery of the whole thing, and when voting closed, the name “Boaty McBoatface” was the clear winner. However, the final say went to the chief executive of the NERC who ultimately named it after the famous British biologist and broadcaster, Sir David Attenborough.
It wasn’t the first, nor the last time a group or company had the seemingly fun and innocent idea of letting the public name an inanimate object blow up in their face. As The Guardian noted in its 2016 article about Boaty, before the NERC conducted its campaign, other groups and companies ran into similar issues with the public overwhelming voting to give something a nonsensical name. However, the Boaty saga seemed to gain the most attention leading various communities to want to give an object the last name, “Mc<whatever>face.” For example, Emily Petsko noted in a 2018 article for Mental Floss that the after-effects of the Boaty story included an owl being named, Hooty McOwlface, and Botty McBotface being suggested for a pipe-inspecting robot in Kansas City.
Whether or not the Name the Plow campaign follows the trend is yet to be determined. But, let me be perfectly clear and say that I am not saying you should suggest the name Plowy McPlowface, I’m just pointing out other instances where a naming contest like this didn’t quite go as the organization running it had planned. Would it be funny if one of the plows was given the name, Plowy McPlowface? Abso-freaking-lutely. And who knows, maybe the powers that be at the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet have a good sense of humor and would allow it. But again, I am not saying you should suggest it.
How to Submit a Name to Kentucky’s Name the Plow Program
Name suggestions can be made now through December 2nd, 2022 through this online form. You must be a current Kentucky resident to enter and you can only submit one name suggestion that the Cabinet asks to be “PG” or family-friendly. You cannot suggest a celebrity, film, character, or other trademarked or product name. However, they do say satire is accepted, so maybe Plowy has a chance (again, not suggesting it). With that said, it should be noted that KYTC staff will vote on the winning names.
The winning names will be announced, “in early January 2023.”
[Sources: KYTC / The Guardian / Mental Floss]
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