The Minnesota Department of Transportation's "Name a Snowplow" contest is back for the third straight year.
The agency is accepting name suggestions for the next 10 days. Last year, MnDOT received more than 11,000 suggestions after putting out a call for the public to help name eight snowplows — one for each district in the state. "Betty Whiteout" was the runaway winner.
"We hope to see another round of creative names," said MnDOT spokeswoman Anne Meyer.
MnDOT was the first transportation department in the country to launch a snowplow naming contest — an effort to bring some levity to winter, Meyer said. Agency officials had seen an article in "Roadshow" explaining how Scotland names its entire snowplow fleet and posts maps showing their locations. The country calls the vehicles "gritters," the article said, which led to witty handles such as "Gritney Spears" and "Gritty Gritty Bang Bang."
MnDOT officials thought the idea would catch on here, and it did. The inaugural contest in 2021 brought in more than 24,000 winter- and Minnesota-themed ideas. Last year submissions fell to half of that, but it was enough participation for MnDOT to bring the contest back again this year, Meyer said.
MnDOT will accept submissions on its website through Dec. 16. Suggestions are limited to one per person and 30 characters, including spaces. Additionally, politically inspired names or suggestions containing profanity or inappropriate language will be excluded. Names of previous winners will also be rejected.
Past winners include Plowy McPlowFace, Ctrl Salt Delete, Snowbi Wan Kenobi and The Truck Formerly Known As Plow.
"This contest is intended to be fun, lighthearted, family-friendly and nonpolitical," Meyer said. "We have a good time seeing all the names."
MnDOT staff will review submissions and select 50 finalists based on factors such as creativity, uniqueness, frequency of submissions, Minnesota-specific ideas and names that would be easily identifiable and understandable to broad audiences, MnDOT said.
Members of the public will vote on their favorites in January. The eight names that get the most votes will make their way onto a snowplow in each of MnDOT's eight districts.
Aside from having a bit of fun, Meyer said, the contest also has a serious purpose.
"We hope people will make a connection with the snowplow fleet and hopefully drive carefully around them," she said.