Google fiber candidates: Top 5 desperate US cities

Communities launch creative campaigns to catch Google's eye -- and its megafast fiber-optic network.

What's more entertaining than the sight of civic leaders fawning all over Google for a little high-speed action? In recent weeks, cities across the U.S. have staged some fairly bizarre antics to convince Google to build its proposed 1-gigabit fiber-optic network in their area. The search giant will make its decision by the end of 2010.

Naturally, when the competition is this fierce -- at least 600 communities are vying for the fiber network -- you've got to stand out. And acting a little kooky is one way to show Google you care, even if you come across as, well, a little desperate. Here are five particularly nutty publicity stunts:

Duluth

Nothing says "we care" quite like hypothermia. Perhaps that's what Don Ness, mayor of Duluth, Minnesota, was thinking when he jumped into icy Lake Superior in February. Question: Will Ness' plunge sway Google's execs to choose Duluth? Or will they simply ponder the George Costanza-like effects of 35-degree water on male shrinkage?

Sarasota

Why suffer shrinkage with you can swim with sharks? To win Google's love, Sarasota, Florida mayor Richard Clapp donned a wetsuit and took a quick dip last week in a local shark tank, according to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune.

The bonnet-head sharks were "well fed," the newspaper reports. And that's good news for the Mayor Clapp, unless he was trying to show his support for Google's dismemberment benefits.

Or maybe sharks use broadband. There's a deeper meaning here somewhere.

Topeka

Topeka, Kansas is now...Google, Kansas! City leaders issued a February proclamation making the symbolic name change for the month of March 2010. The attention-grabbing stunt did grab headlines, but its ability to sway Google remains unclear.

Let's up the ante a bit: All first-born children in Topeka shall be named "Google" for perpetuity. Do we have the gig, Google?

Rancho Cucamonga

Like Topeka, the Southern California city of Rancho Cucamonga chose to Googlize its name. But at least it limited its sycophancy to the city's fiber-optic campaign, which is named Rancho Googlemonga. Come to think of it, "Rancho Googlemonga" may be an improvement over the city's true name.

Greenville

This stunt has a rave-like feel. Greenville, South Carolina in March created a "people-powered Google chain" with more than 2,000 LED glow sticks to spell out the name "Google." It's a cool concept -- check out the video -- if sort of freaky in a cult-like way.

One thing's for sure: The folks at Google are masters of free publicity. All of this adulation -- and they've yet to lay one strand of fiber.

Contact Jeff Bertolucci via Twitter (@jbertolucci) or at jbertolucci.blogspot.com.

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Jeff Bertolucci

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