Being a Sparks Railroader from an apparently bygone era, I’m a little bit sensitive to changing time-honored symbolism; after all, my grandfather was in fact a railroader, and it wasn’t all that long ago when the great rivalry around here was the rich boy Reno Huskies against the poor boy Sparks Railroaders.
Thinking about it, though, the name changers are right; that era died in about 1970, and the railroad hasn’t been a significant employer for decades. Besides, a “railroad” working-class town as an image-maker will not generate much tourist interest.
Since the real goal is a clever, easy-to-promote-and-remember catch phrase, a creative, artistic-minded person could have an opportunity to really do something to put Sparks on the map.
Unfortunately, I do not have an artistic bone in my body, but having lived here all my life, some of my real-life experiences and observations and the current changes we all see around us give me some inspiration.
How about: “Skip Vacationing in Mexico – Come to Sparks.”
No, somehow I don’t see that one passing the politically correct muster. I must try again.
How about: “Sparks – Only a Taxi Drive Away from the World’s Most Famous Brothel.”
No, that would appeal to a limited audience, one I suspect that is already familiar with the displayed facts anyway.
How about: “Sparks, Where Waves of Golden Cheatgrass Shimmer with Every Sierra Breeze.”
No, too environmentalist oriented. Need to broaden the base.
How about: “Sparks, the Home of a Thousand Tracts.”
No, appeals primarily to framers, contractors and work-starved people. Since they currently have no money, they are a base we want to avoid.
How about: “Tired of Las Vegas, Wendover, Jackpot, Reno and Indian casinos? Try Sparks!”
Catchy, but somehow doesn’t seem to grab enough.
How about: “Sparks, a Nice Clean City Where You Can Raise Your Family, Find Generally Good Employment, Go Hunting and Fishing Nearby, Decent Schools, Great Local Paper with (a) Brilliant Columnist(s), Good Malls, Good Highway/Road Network, Nice Local Casinos and Shows, Generally Libertarian in Outlook, Close to Beautiful Lakes, Skiing Galore, Nice Climate, Golf Courses from Cheap to Fancy, Lots of Restaurants, Reasonable Taxes, Good City Government, Excellent Police and Firemen, a Nice Middle Class American City.”
No, too boring. Lacks “bling.”
How about: “Sparks – Beautiful Lakes, Buxom Women, Lots of Bars, Loose Casinos, Cheap Eats, Even Cheaper Labor, Bilingual Workforce, Libraries, Churches, Schools, University, Paved Streets With a Wild West Frontier Attitude!”
Strongly appealing, covers lots of bases, modern and Old West appeal. Best one yet, but too long.
I give up. Something with ballparks, casinos, malls, climate, Lake Tahoe, the marina, the Sierras, outdoor recreation, brothels, churches, schools, etc. is tough to lump together in a clever cliché.
Hey, I got it. “Sparks, the City of a Thousand Things to Do.”
Not bad. I mean how many places are there you can go to (take your pick) a church, a bordello, a casino, a lake, a ski resort, a mall, a football game, a museum or the bar, all in a single day? Truly, Sparks is unique.
While we are in the process of updating our image, political correctness being our guide, how much do you know about “Honest John” Sparks, the Nevada governor our city is named after?
Considering we just elected our first (half) black president, is it proper to have a city name after a Southerner who was a Confederate soldier? John Sparks was indeed a “Johnny Reb.”
Wow. Let’s really remake our image – Time to get rid of that politically insensitive “Sparks.”
How about “East Reno?”
Ira Hansen is a lifelong resident of Sparks and owner of Ira Hansen and Sons Plumbing.