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'Plowy McPlowface': MDOT Is Asking For Names For Its Snowplows

MDOT snowplow
MDOT
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MDOT
MDOT wants Michiganders to name its fleet of more than 250 snowplows.

Plowasaurus Rex, Sir Salts-A-Lot, and Snowboni.

These are just some of the new names for the Michigan Department of Transporation's snowplows.

The department started giving nicknames to just plows in its Southwest region around Kalamazoo, but now, MDOT is offering Michiganders the chance to name its entire fleet.

WKAR's Sophia Saliby spoke to department spokesperson, Nick Schirripa about the program.

Interview Highlights

On Where The Idea Came From

It came from Scotland, and it seems like kind of a long trip, but somebody on Twitter threw the idea out to us. They showed us the map from Scotland and thought it'd be fun to do here and that idea took off. It grew legs in minutes, and from there just kind of "snowballed"—pun intended—and here we are, just a few short weeks later, soliciting names for our snowplows in Michigan.

On What Michiganders Need To Submit A Name Suggestion

We ask for three things: your name suggestion, limited to 50 characters including spaces, and if you'd like to tell us your name or the name of your organization, if maybe it's a class or school who's submitting a name idea let us know that and the area you're from, where you'd like to suggest a name, so your county or your region.

On How Long It Will Take To Name All Of The Snow Plows

It could take a couple weeks; it could take a couple months. We don't know. We didn't want to box ourselves in. So, now that we're getting this, obviously, huge list of ideas, we could probably start next week or in a couple weeks and maybe have a whole bunch of names applied by the end of this winter. We might sit on it and start working out over the summer and have it done before next winter starts, so next winter, all our plows are named.

Interview Transcript

Sophia Saliby: This is All Things Considered on WKAR. I’m Sophia Saliby.

Plowasaurus Rex, Sir Salts-A-Lot, and Snowboni. These are just some of the new names for the Michigan Department of Transporation's snowplows.

The department started giving nicknames to just plows in its Southwest region around Kalamazoo, but now, MDOT is offering Michiganders the chance to name its entire fleet. Nick Schirripa is a spokesperson for the department. He joins me now. Thanks for being here.

Nick Schirripa: Thanks for having me.

Saliby: Where did the idea come from to name the state's snowplows?

Schirripa: You know, honestly, it came from Scotland, and it seems like kind of a long trip, but somebody on Twitter threw the idea out to us. They showed us the map from Scotland and thought it'd be fun to do here and that idea took off. It grew legs in minutes, and from there just kind of "snowballed"—pun intended—and here we are, just a few short weeks later, soliciting names for our snowplows in Michigan.

Saliby: Michiganders can submit their own names for plows. How does that process work?

Schirripa: It is quite simple. We have a website, and we're very clever. It's michigan.gov/namemisnowplow. "My" as in "M-I," namemisnowplow. And we ask for three things: your name suggestion, limited to 50 characters including spaces, and if you'd like to tell us your name or the name of your organization, if maybe it's a class or school who's submitting a name idea let us know that and the area you're from, where you'd like to suggest a name, so your county or your region. So, perhaps that name will be with a plow in your area, instead of in a different part of the state.

Saliby: How will names get selected after they get submitted?

Schirripa: So, we'll have a giant list that's aggregated by area of the state, by region. And then those regional lists will go to that region, and then we'll have a team in each region, working with communications folks in our region, maintenance folks who will go through what is turning out to be very long lists of name suggestions. And we'll pick from those lists to name the plows, so it'll be a combination of public submission and our maintenance forces.

Saliby: Can you share with me some of the other names that have been submitted in the stories behind them?

Schirripa: Some of the most common obviously, Plowy McPlowface or any iteration there of [or] Sir Plows-a-lot or Sir Salts-a-lot or any iteration there of. Those are the two most popular, and we've had dozens of other submissions. Plowasaurus Rex is one of my favorites. We used it. We had to. Snowboni, I'm a hockey guy; I could not help but use that one. I had to grab it.

Over the past 48 hours, and I say 48 hours almost to the minute since we put out the news release with that web link in it to suggest names, we've had almost 5,500 submissions for right around 300 plow names we're going to need. 5,500 submissions, so the list is growing exponentially. It's a huge list.

I can't even imagine some of the submissions we've had and how we're going to select. It's going to be insanely, impossibly difficult. Some of the names have got to be just hilarious and awesome. So, it's going to be a challenge, I'm sure.

Saliby: That was kind of my next question. How long will it take to name them all or what is the kind of the timeline to get all these snowplows named?

Schirripa: We started this whole process, and we didn't want to box ourselves in with rules and expectations. This is really just supposed to be fun. It was intended to be fun. It was intended to make people smile and laugh and just have a good bit of fun. So, we didn't want it to have rules built in around it.

We had a few guidelines about the kind of names we wanted to use. We wanted to keep it in good taste and family friendly, those kinds of things. We certainly didn't want any copyright strikes. So, we had some guidelines, but we didn't really know.

It could take a couple weeks; it could take a couple months. We don't know. We didn't want to box ourselves in. So, now that we're getting this, obviously, huge list of ideas, we could probably start next week or in a couple weeks and maybe have a whole bunch of names applied by the end of this winter. We might sit on it and start working out over the summer and have it done before next winter starts, so next winter, all our plows are named. We haven't really boxed ourselves into those rules. We don't know.

Saliby: How can Michiganders track the plows in their region?

Shirripa: Michigan.gov/drive or MI Drive Map. If you go to that map, it's interactive. There's all kinds of layers you can turn on. One of the fun layers, I say fun because, well, I'm a traffic geek. If you turn on the GPS layer that tracks our plows, and you'll see all our plows that are out when they're out on the road. And each of those icons if you just hover your mouse over it, the name of that plow will pop up.

If you click on that icon, it'll pop up a little window, the name will still be there and you'll get kind of a through the windshields view of what that plow operator is seeing on the road. So, that's how you see that plow name, and that's also [how] you can see what that plow operator is seeing at that moment.

Saliby: Nick Schirripa is a spokesperson for MDOT. Thank you for joining me.

Schirripa: Pleasure is all mine.

This conversation has been edited for clarity and conciseness.

Sophia Saliby is the local producer and host of All Things Considered, airing 4pm-7pm weekdays on 90.5 FM WKAR.
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