So, the big news in Carbon County PA is that, once again, the family of Jim Thorpe is attempting to exhume his body for reburial in Oklahoma. Rather than focus on the legal argument of the family or the reaction of a community that has permanently honored the man when no other town in America would provide a final resting place, let's assume the family wins and the body is exhumed and reburied. What then? Rename the town? And to what? Please, not back to Mauch Chunk!
Now is the time for the community to seize control of their destiny and look forward to life without the Jim Thorpe moniker. The obvious and financially rewarding proposition would be to seek out a corporate sponsor and sell them naming rights. This has worked for numerous sports teams (locally, Wachovia Arena; Coca Cola Park) and, structured properly, the deal could be financially lucrative. Obvious local businesses could include Yuengling Brewery. Just think, a town of Yuengling PA whose local school district would become the Frothy Lagers (instead of the Olympians) with Black & Tan school colors. This is almost too good to be true, but, corporate sponsorships might be hard to come by these days and there's still an empty mausoleum to fill.
So, how about a new celebrity body? Options abound as celebrities have been dropping like flies over the past year. Want an athlete? How about Steve McNair PA? Not unique enough? How about a serial killer? D. C. sniper John Allen Muhammad will be taking a dirt nap later tonight. Muhammad may not be a familiar enough name to warrant the change to Muhammad PA, so how about Charles Manson PA? His "family" won't come looking for him in the next century!
And, of course, there's Michael Jackson. How could his publicity seeking family let him rest in peace in obscurity. Michael Jackson PA would be a cinch to draw a steady stream of tourists to the town!
Personally, I'd rather keep with the sports great naming theme, with the best choice being the signing of an option with a living legend to commit to burial in the town in return for naming rights. A commitment by a living individual would clearly and legally establish that individual's wishes.
So, with that in mind, the town should consider renaming itself Joe Paterno PA, or, as an acceptable alternative, Paternoville PA. Let's get local government on this idea now, before it's too late and we're stuck with Charlie Manson!!