What happens when you entrust elementary school children with naming massive pieces of snow removal equipment?
A blizzard of cute, creative ideas sure to give weary plow drivers a chuckle.
Last month, the Vermont Agency of Transportation invited kids across the state to come up with unique monikers for some of the department’s fleet of snowplows that will be hitting the roads this winter.
This week, the chosen names were revealed for “Vermont Plow Day” — and hilarity ensued.
Look out, Vermont snow, here comes “Plowy McPlowface,” “Jennifer Snowpez,” and “Obi-Wan KenSNOWbi.”
“We had a lot of creative naming,” said Todd Law, deputy division director of the agency’s district maintenance and fleet division. “It was absolutely amazing.”
The idea to let kids dub the state’s big orange snowplows came from a similar tradition that has gained fame in Scotland in recent years, Vermont transportation officials said. Vermont’s “Name a Plow” program gave students a month “to put on their thinking caps” and coin catchy nicknames for the state’s 250 vehicles, officials said. Each school was allowed to submit one name as part of the contest.
In the end, the transportation department received 167 names from students and their schools, including some from middle and high school students, Law said.
Each school was matched with a snowplow at the closest maintenance garage. The plows will bear green and white signs proudly displaying their name and the school’s, as snow is cleared in those districts.
From completely random to inspired, the ideas showed impressive creativity, said Law.
“I’m like, ‘How did these elementary school kids come up with this?’” he said. “We weren’t sure what kind of responses we would get.”
When it came to getting a bit silly, students didn’t shy away from wordplay.
Children in Ripton went the literary route with the name “William Scrape-speare,” while the Pacem School in Montpelier recalled the master of the macabre with “Edgar Allen Snow.”
Other names that have garnered chuckles online include “Plowy McPlowFace,” “Snow You Didn’t,” “Snow Place Like Home,” “Yo Bro, No Snow,” “Dorito,” and, well, “Steve.”
References to “Star Wars” were also popular, Law said — and ranked among his favorites. “Luke Snow Walker,” for example. Not to mention “Darth Blader,” “Baby Snowda” — a play on baby Yoda — and “Obi-Wan KenSNOWbi.”
At the Neshobe Elementary School in Brandon, “Ice Ice Baby” will battle the elements this winter, a hat tip to the 1990 hit by Vanilla Ice. Another plow named after a musical act was “Jennifer Snowpez.” (”Jenny from the Block of Ice” went unsubmitted)
Of course, the harsh reality that the plows might ruin the chance of students missing a day of school in the event of a heavy storm was not lost on them, as evidenced by “Snow Day Crusher,” “Snow Day Reaper,” and “Snow Day Dream Crusher.”
To celebrate the success of the program, on Wednesday the plows visited the schools that anointed them with their new labels. School officials were encouraged to share photos of the plows on social media, using the hashtag #VTPlowDay.
Images posted online showed kids from various districts speaking with plow truck drivers, as they learned about the heavy machinery and what it takes to keep the state’s roads clear.
Law said pulling it all together, from start to finish, took “quite a bit of work,” but the payoff has been worth it. Seeing and hearing about school children lighting up at the sight of a truck emblazoned with the name that they chose with their classmates was rewarding, he said.
“It has just been a great heartwarming endeavor all around,” he said. “We have had kindergartners who have said, ‘Oh my goodness, this is the best day of my life.’ ”
Even the state’s top leader was impressed — and amused — by the student participation.
“They had many great ideas,” Vermont Governor Phil Scott wrote on Facebook this week, highlighting a few of the names. “[These plows] will unite to keep school commutes safe and, unfortunately for students, stop a few snow days this winter.”
Law said that he hopes the naming campaign moves beyond Vermont’s borders and inspires communities elsewhere that battle snow each winter to follow suit.
“Hopefully it grows across the nation,” he said. “I think we all need that.”
Three CVSD schools had plows come to visit for #VTPlowDay - we look forward to seeing Salty, Powder Pusher, and Shelburne Blizzard on the roads! https://t.co/BbBTaASYhf @AOTVermont @VTEducation @ForWardTeaching @nicolepfende #cvsdvt #vted pic.twitter.com/9n4sSDbZFu— CVSDVT (@CVSDVT) November 17, 2021
It was #VTPlowDay ! Thanks to Andy who stopped by this morning to show us the plow we named. Wave to “McNugget” when you see them on Rte 128 this winter!— Callie Goss (@gossliteracy) November 18, 2021
Thanks to @AOTVermont for the cool idea & fun morning meeting discussion. @VTEducation pic.twitter.com/f3GwfZ77FK