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  Comments (2) Total Wednesday Apr. 23, 2014
Weather Bragging
Like I was Sayin....
A few inches of snow dropped on the South last week, enough to effectively shut down the region and earn the storm the nicknames “snowpocalypse” and “snowmageddon” and other combinations of words that suggest the end of the world. While that didn’t happen, it was still pretty bad.

Atlanta, one of the largest metro areas in the country, was crippled. People abandoned their vehicles, were stuck in box stores and hunkered down, waiting for city officials to help – city officials who were panned for their response. And the mayor there, Kasim Reed, has since apologized for the “pain and anguish” caused by the storm.

Up here, in the hinterlands, many of us watched news coverage of the event and chuckled. How could so little snow do so much damage to such a large city? And while some of the criticism was off base (after all, Georgia doesn’t have a lot of snow plows), it was at once a chance to brag about the bad weather we northlanders endure each winter.

That’s the thing about the weather; we like to brag about it and tell stories about the last time this or that body of water froze and how the temperature hovered below zero, but we walked to school anyway. Because everyone was simply tougher 20 or 30 years ago than they are now.

And we take these bragging rights seriously. Two towns, International Falls, Minn., and Fraser, Colo., have battled for decades over which is officially the “Icebox of the Nation.” The dispute was known as the “Cold War.” Get it?

In 1987, after International Falls applied to copyright the “icebox” title, Fraser’s mayor proposed a contest to prove which was colder. Instead, two years later, International Falls paid Fraser $2,000 to stop using the description. That appeared to settle the matter, but only for a couple decades.

International Falls (located on the Canadian border and home to more than 6,000 residents) and Fraser (situated at about 8,500 feet in the Rockies and home to about 900 people) continued to quarrel. In 2007, when Fraser discovered International Falls had failed to renew its federal trademark, the Colorado town filed its own application.

In jest, International Falls challenged Fraser to a snowshoe competition; Fraser officials responded with an invitation to a snowball fight, according to a story in the Summit Daily. But then the dispute became more serious, resulting in dueling lawsuits.

Fraser argued that it had been using the nickname since 1956, while International Falls said it had proof that it has used the slogan since 1948. In the end, the court sided with International Falls, as did the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office. The city celebrated its status as an official “icebox” – after all, the moniker attracts tourists.

“I ran over to the attorney’s office and kissed the certificate,” the mayor said at the time. “Fraser’s actions had sent a chill down my spine.”

But that didn’t settle the dispute with Fraser locals who still consider the slogan their own, because disputes over weather never really end. When people mention how cold it is in the Flathead, I respond flatly, “Not as cold as North Dakota.” I then continue to tell them stories about how, when I lived there, my car would die in my garage (every night!) and my ears would swell when I forgot my stocking cap. Often, these people have no interest in hearing these stories and the only proof I offer are exaggerated anecdotes. But, you know, who needs concrete evidence when bragging about weather?

In fact, while International Falls may have won the rights to its slogan, it’s not even the coldest town in that state. That honor goes to Embarrass, Minn., which proudly calls itself, “The Cold Spot.”
On 02-22-14, bocephusj57 commented....
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