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Things getting goofy in Mickey Mouse county

September 23, 2008

Congratulations to Carolyn Motz and Hagerstown Regional Airport for striking a deal with Allegiant Air, which will fly twice-weekly flights to Orlando, Fla.

But ...

After airlines to Pittsburgh repeatedly failed over the years to attract enough riders to maintain profitability, it makes sense to try a new model.

But ...

Allegiant Air will fly to a resort destination with low introductory fares, which might actually attract a new breed of passenger who can take advantage of the airport's easy access and fine facilities.

But ...

And congratulations on putting the new, $60 million runway to use; you guys have taken a lot of heat about that, so you deserve a pat on the back when it pays dividends.

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But ... Come on, Carolyn. Mickey Mouse ears?

Look, we expect to see headgear like that on the Washington County legislative delegation, but not here.

What is with local officials and costumes that we've seen of late? What, did they move Halloween up six weeks and only tell people in government?

First, we have the County Commissioners dressed up like flying carpets at the introduction of Vishnu U, and now this. I don't know if I'm watching county government or the Mummers Parade. But the symbolism of Mickey Mouse ears and Washington County is so palpable that even a stinker like me hesitates to take advantage.

I shudder to think what we're going to see when the School Board cuts the ribbon at the new Barbara Ingram School For the Arts.

(But if I did take advantage, it would involve a reference to Daffy Duck.)

Betty Morgan in a painter's smock and chapeau? Wayne Ridenour as MacBeth? Paul Bailey as P. Diddy? From now on, when they open a new school we won't know whether to expect to see the elected board or the cast from Sesame Street.

When the City of Hagerstown restores the Alms House, maybe they can give us a couple of scenes from Lés Miz.

I'm also a little uncomfortable considering what the Orlando destination says in general about the Washington County demo.

Is there money to be made taking us to the great financial centers of New York, London or Zurich? No. Is there money to be made taking us to the great centers of power like Washington, Tokyo or Singapore? No. The great cultural centers of Rome, Paris or Athens? No. The hip and trendy L.A., Miami or Mykonos? Negative.

No, we want to go see Goofy.

Can't say Allegiant Air hasn't done its homework.

Airport officials say that if this works out, there's a chance that we could get service to other locations that Hagerstonians might find attractive. So watch out Vegas and Branson. We may be the first city with daily, nonstop flights to Dollywood.

And, or course, along with flying Hagerstown to Orlando, they will be flying Orlando to Hagerstown. Maybe we can use this as a marketing tool to Orlandites. "Come to Hagerstown; the only place in America more surreal than y'all."

Tim Rowland is a Herald-Mail columnist. He can be reached at 301-733-5131, ext. 2324 or via e-mail at timr@herald-mail.com.

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