Hutchinson changed its name to Smallville today, the hometown of Clark Kent, aka Superman. It’s only for a day, but it is meaningful. The Hutchinson News today changed its masthead. The Downtown Hutchinson Facebook page changed its artwork, as did The Hutchinson Public Library. Even Experience Hutch has become Experience Smallville for the day.
Clark Kent has often been from Kansas and the most recent movie solidified that connection. Many references in the various Superman products over the years have pointed to the idea that it might well be Hutchinson that creators had in mind. Due to the enthusiasm of three self-described “nerds” with local connections, the city council made it official.
Tonight Clark Kent is being inducted into the Kansas Hall of Fame and Hutchinson News – excuse me, Daily Planet – editor John Montgomery will be there on his behalf. They have been on this story from the beginning and if you search their archives, you can read about the progression of it. Hutchinson Magazine also had a story about the trio.
Third Thursday last month was all about Smallville. Last night’s Third Thursday Art Walk featured banners painted by local artists, one of which included Smallville and Clark Kent references.
Tourism is a huge industry in Hutchinson with the Cosmosphere and Strataca/Kansas Underground Salt Museum in town, as well as many other attractions. In the state, one in nine jobs is tourism-related. The general public does not seem to understand the value of bringing people to your community.
The Smallville push has already brought international visitors to Hutchinson, in anticipation of it happening. It will bring other visitors who want to experience Smallville as well. It’s not for everyone, as most tourism is not. But it’s important to a segment of the population and their money is as good as everyone else’s.
As with most things related to living in a society, not every single thing can appeal to every single person. You may barely know who Superman is, and you don’t have to care about Smallville, or want to participate in the festivities. But please be kind enough to let those who do want to have fun with it, do so. Hopefully they will extend the same courtesy to you when something is happening they don’t care about that you do. Even if it’s not your kind of fun, it’s someone’s kind of fun.
No public money was spent on this project. But it is good business to invest money in tourism projects. It is returned to you many times over when people come to visit your town. Investing in tourism requires having vision – whether you’re spending money or good will or some other commodity.
We will have a continual stream of visitors coming to town and spending their money here because of being Smallville. We owe a debt to Christopher Wietrick, Ben Eisiminger and KC McNeely who had the vision, and the city council for making it official.
As he says in the movie, “It’s about as American as it gets.” A grass roots effort grew into something official. It is truly democracy in action that has some far reaching effects for tourism.