Last year, the City of Syracuse announced it would purchase 10 new snowplows. Then in November, the City held a contest to name those new plows.
In December, the winning names were announced (https://www.localsyr.com/news/local-news/blizzard-beater-and-salt-city-express-among-winners-for-syracuse-snow-plow-naming-contest/). Those names included: Below Zero Hero, Beast of the East, Control Salt Delete, Golden Snowball, Lake Effect Crusher, Jocko, Abominable, Blizzard Beater, Winged Warrior, and Salt City Express.
While all of these names are fine, but as could be expected, some felt like there were other options that would have been better. Even John Oliver commented (https://www.syracuse.com/news/2020/12/syracuses-new-snow-plow-names-make-john-oliver-furious.html) suggesting we missed an opportunity for a name like Spready Mercury. Across Syracuse Twitter, there was clearly a push for Plowie/Plowy McPlowFace.
So, what is one to do when you know a naming contest has occurred, but you don’t have access to all of the submissions? You file a Freedom of Information Request to the City and then wait a few weeks. I did that, and I just received the data!
The data came to me in PDF format, and it contained the names of the people who made each submission. I converted the PDF to csv and then also anonymized each name — this allows you to see if someone made multiple submissions, but doesn’t expose their name.
A couple of initial observations:
- There were a lot of submissions! Almost 2,000 in total. Some were duplicates that I removed, for a total of 1,948 unique submissions.
- Just prior to the snowplow naming contest, Mayor Ben Walsh made a decision to remove the Christopher Columbus statue that stands in Downtown Syracuse. It appears that decision impacted some of the submissions — the top name submitted was Santa Maria — the ship Christopher Columbus sailed on.
- Plowy McPlowFace got the second most submissions — 128 of the 1,948. There were some other spellings and derivations, like Plowie McPlowface (also a Snowy McSnowface).
- While I don’t know if submissions in Syracuse would impress John Oliver, there are some funny/good ones including: #1 aaa snowplow truck,
Plowie Mandel, David Plowie, Snow X Cuse.
- Most people only made one submission, but several people submitted dozens of names — I thank them for their passion.
- Some of the winning names have similar submissions — a number include the word “abominable”, so I marked which of the submissions could be considered winning submissions. The winners did not have a lot of people submitting for those names — at most 2 people submitted for a winning name.
A searchable table is available here: http://samedelstein.com/snowplow_names
You can also see the full dataset here. Apologies in advance if there are any offensive names, I didn’t look at everything.
Thank you to the hard working folks in the Corporation Counsel’s office who indulged my request. I hope it was a nice departure from the less fun FOIL requests they receive.
There are plenty of names to find that I didn’t see. So, what are your favorites?