July 10, 2007 -- Homer, Bart, Marge, Lisa and Maggie Simpson are headed to Vermont for their first movie premiere, as Springfield, Vt., has been named the "real" location of the cartoon family's fictional hometown and the official host for their film premiere.
For "Simpsons" fans, it has been the great cartoon controversy: If the show's hometown of "Springfield" actually existed in America, where would it be?
The show of course has long circumvented the issue, and even went so far as to make a running joke of the city's indeterminate location. But that didn't stop 14 cities across the nation, all named Springfield, from claiming television's longest-running sitcom as their own in the hopes of being chosen for the premiere of "The Simpsons Movie" on July 21.
But Vermont was declared the winner as voters in an online USA Today poll elected the Vermont Springfield on the strength of its video submission in which a real-life Homer chased a giant donut, the favorite food of the potbellied hero.
Yellow Faces, and Look-Alikes
Vermont's victory came after quite an animated rivalry, as the real-life American Springfields each submitted videos trying to prove that they were the inspiration for the TV town and its dysfunctional power plant, government and a few dysfunctional families.
"I'd have to say to the competition, they can eat my shorts," said Mayor Tim Davlin in Springfield, Ill., before the winner was chosen. His town has a power plant run by a man who looks like Mr. Burns, the fictional character who heads the cartoon Springfield's nuclear power plant and is boss to the series' protagonist, Homer Simpson.
The residents of Springfield, N. J., created a theme song with lyrics that sing the idea that their residents and surroundings closely resemble the sitcom. In Springfield, La., they painted themselves a shade of yellow like the cartoon characters.
And in Springfield, Ill., the state legislature took it to a whole different level by passing a resolution declaring its Springfield home to the Simpsons. Outlining specific evidence, the city argued it is the real town because, like the cartoon, it is in close proximity to a town called Shelbyville and has a donut shop.
But even having that much in common with the series didn't make it a guaranteed shoo-in for the movie debut at the end of the month.
Springfield, Mass., pointed out that it has a bridge that looks like one in the Simpsons' hometown and a statue that looks suspiciously like Jebediah Springfield, the founder of the fictional town. Even Sen. Ted Kennedy, D-Mass., the model for Mayor Quimby, has appeared on the video vouching for the candidacy of Springfield, Mass.
While the Barts and Homers of each Springfield might be headed to their local Kwik-E-Mart for some junk food to ease their loss, they don't have too much to feel sad about -- each of the participants will have a smaller screening on July 26, the night before the movie opens across the country.