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Sarasota Thursday, Apr. 1, 2010 10 years ago

Sarasota now officially 'Googlesota'

by: Loren Mayo Black Tie Editor

APRIL FOOLS — Mayor Dick Clapp didn’t doggie paddle with sharks for the exercise. It appears the mayor’s outlandish behavior, indeed, attracted the attention of the Google Fiber folks who designate which communities would be deemed hotspots for the ultra high-speed broadband network.

Earlier this week, Google named Sarasota to its list of test sites, prompting Sarasota commissioners to vote 3-2 Monday, March 29, in favor of permanently changing the city’s name to “Googlesota.”

“I think this has gotten out of hand,” said one commissioner, who voted against the name change. “I don’t even use Google. Bing is much better.”

Clapp admitted that ever since he first toured Sarasota via segway, he always thought the city’s name could be less lame.

The HuB’s Matt Orr is so stoked to bring filmmakers to Sarasota that he’s already started his marketing campaign to bring James Cameron’s “Avatar 2” here as quickly as possible and wants to help Cameron’s digital animation staff set up shop at Sarasota Municipal Auditorium — now known as the Googleplex — to use the high-tech fiber-optics to send movies across the Internet in a jiffy. Ringling College of Art and Design students will have the opportunity to be cast as extras in the film.

But just as Orr began firing off This Week in Googlesota (TWIG) press releases with the “I love downtown Googlesota” logo on them, he received a call from director Michael Bay, who is considering moving the production of “Transformers 3” to Googlesota.

Should the contract be approved, it would mean closing off Tamiami Trail from Fruitville to Bee Ridge during season for an entire month. Orr has also been offered the speaking part of Bumblebee, a transformer that finally gets his voice in the sequel.

Orr said “I love downtown Googlesota” T-shirts and posters should be ready by mid-April. In August, his team will start the HuB-Googlesota channel that will replace SNN6.

Bay has also requested to “blow something up” in the movie. After years of faithful service to opera-lovers, the Sarasota Opera House has decided to close its doors next year and has agreed to let the landmark be destroyed by a transformer. Googlesotans will get to vote via the Facebook fan page, “Googlesota Really Offers Something Special” (GROSS), on which transformer will play this role. GROSS had 236,984 fans as of Wednesday, March 31.

Area hotels are also getting into the game of vying for the attention of filmmakers by offering up free hotel rooms during season, from Oct. 1 to April 15. But the week of the Googlesota Film Festival 2011 is already completely booked, and some big-name surprise guests have already reserved their rooms at The Ritz-Carlton, Googlesota.

“I think this will be the best economic shot in the arm Sarasota, I mean Googlesota, has ever received,” said a spokesperson for the Greater Googlesota Chamber of Commerce.

A recent survey conducted by the Florida Department of Transportation revealed that 100% of Googlesota residents over the age of 50 would reject the proposal to close Tamiami Trail to film “Transformers 3.” On the other hand, 100% of Googlesota residents under the age of 14 are in favor of the action-packed movie coming here.

“If you think I’m ever going to put up with the earsplitting hullabaloo of some scandalous shoot ’em up machine-war movie filming outside my home, you’ve got another thing coming,” said a Bird Key resident, who would have to travel to the north end of Longboat Key, cross the bridge to Bradenton Beach, head east on Cortez Road to Tamiami Trail and then take University Boulevard east to a connecting street just to maneuver around the blocked off area.

Because the call letters of the Googlesota-Bradenton International Airport changed from “SRQ” to “GBI” as of Tuesday, March 30, several flights into Googlesota were misdirected Tuesday afternoon to land at the original “GBI,” an auxiliary airfield in Grand Bahama, Bahamas. In total, five flights carrying 250 passengers landed in the Bahamas before the mistake was noticed. One passenger, whom we spoke to via Skype, said he’s excited his flight ended up in the Bahamas because now he can “rest and relax in paradise.”

For more on this story, click here.

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