A Few Tourist Attraction Suggestions for NH
The Granite State needs more than new slogans to keep the money flowing
Illustration by Marc Sutherland
Hey business owners, are you ready for the tourist invasion?
Those camera-totin', maple syrup-guzzlin', foliage starin' mobs - who spent $4.2 billion in Fiscal Year 2011 - won't just show up in a vacuum. They need to be romantically lured here with sweet marketing slogans.
The New Hampshire Division of Travel & Tourism just scrapped its old advertising tagline ("You're Going to Love It Here") and spent $130,000 on a fill-in-the-blank one ("Live Free and ..."). The word "Die" was wisely deleted from future bumper stickers about canoeing, mountain climbing and antiquing.
"Live Free and ..." could prove to be a stroke of branding genius like "I (heart) NY" or it might be a PR flop like "Baltimore: The City That Reads."
Either way, New Hampshire doesn't need any more slogans to generate revenue. It needs more tourist attractions.
For starters, we need to think beyond the nature lovers. Every time you see a Maine "Vacationland" license plate whiz by you on I-95, consider that their trees and lakes look exactly like our trees and lakes.
Luckily, New Hampshire is blessed with unique and underutilized cultural resources. As a public service we've identified 10 prime locations and some fanciful suggestions for tourist development.
Should you discover that any of these attractions ever come to fruition (another $130,000 could do wonders), don't forget to thank us ...
THE LEANING TOWER OF TUPPERWARE (Berlin)
Plastic bowl tycoon Earl Tupper doesn't generate the same reverence as NH native Franklin Pierce, but what did our 14th President ever do to preserve sandwiches? An unstable tower of Tupperware containers, simulating how they never stack right in the cupboard, would become a must-take tourist photo at the inventor's birthplace. (Inspiration: JELL-O Museum in Le Roy, NY)
THE PAC MAN MEMORIAL (Laconia)
It's time to pay tribute to the millions of Pac Men and Ms. Pac Men mercilessly killed by blue ghosts while trying to get their daily nourishment. The shrine would be at Funspot, which bills itself as the "Largest Arcade in the World." (Inspiration: American Classic Arcade Museum at Funspot)
"ON GOLDEN POND" PHOTO BOOTH (Squam Lake)
Our marketing research indicates that Henry Fonda and Kate Hepburn fans desperately need a pilgrimage site. Offering tons of gray wigs, beards, granny glasses, canes and shawls, the OGP booth invites you and your significant other to hop in a row boat and imagine your retirement years. (Inspiration: "Field of Dreams" movie site in Dyersville, Iowa)
OLD MAN CHARACTER BREAKFAST (Franconia)
OK, can we finally stop the morbid tributes to a natural act of erosion? Bring the Old Man of the Mountain back to life with a roving rockhead mascot and pancake buffet. Create artificial demand by requiring reservations six months in advance. (Inspiration: Pooh Character Breakfast at Disney World)
WORLD'S LARGEST WHOOPIE CUSHION (Manchester/Bedford line)
Our drinking water spawned the comedy minds of Adam Sandler, Seth Meyers and Sarah Silverman - at least two of which are huge evangelists for flatulence jokes. The Whoopie Cushion would go off every hour but emit no visible steam or odor. (Inspiration: Old Faithful at Yellowstone)
UFO PLAYGROUND AND SCULPTURE GARDEN (Lincoln)
NH could have built itself up as another Roswell but just settled for a dinky bronze plaque at the site of Betty and Barney Hill's infamous alien abduction. How about a giant UFO playground with a slide coming out of the spaceship and alien statues galore? (Inspiration: The UFO statue in Mars, Pa.)
RUNNING OF THE POLYANNAS (Littleton)
A bit safer than Running of the Bulls in Spain, children's literature fans can trot a 5K while being chased by librarians dressed as Polyanna. The race can end at the town's exuberant statue of the girlhood icon, a tribute to author Eleanor Hodgman Porter. By the way, in real life, "Official Pollyanna Glad Day" is June 9. (Inspiration: Anne of Green Gables theme park on Canada's Prince Edward Island)
BURNING RUBBER ARCHWAY (Weirs Beach)
Celebrating the annual motorcycle invasion, Laconia should erect a giant tire with "Ride Free or Die" on the treads. During Bike Week, it could be on fire like the Olympic torch. (Inspiration: The Gateway Arch of St. Louis)
THE TOM BERGERON MUSEUM OF DANCE (Durham)
The "Dancing with the Stars" host began his career as the emcee of New Hampshire Public Television's "Granite State Challenge." Allowing tourists to pose next to DWTS ballgowns could generate Smithsonian-level traffic. (Inspiration: John Wayne Birthplace Museum in Winterset, Iowa)
VELCRO MOUNTAIN (Manchester)
New Hampshire's tourist pitch has always been mountain-centric, but we've never been able to promise a klutz-proof climbing experience. No more. Velcro inventor Georges de Mestral would have been thrilled to see his product help kids scale cliffs like Spider-Man with special gloves and boots. And thanks to the state tourism department, we already have the perfect slogan: "Live Free and Stick!" (Inspiration: L.L. Bean's Outdoor Discovery Schools)
This is Marc Sutherland's entire illustration of Darren Garnick's various tourist attraction suggestions.