It's official: Homer's one of us
Date: Sunday, June 01 2003
Topic: Canadian Informative
Cradling a box of his beloved donuts, Homer J. Simpson -- the most famous animated television dad of all-time -- accepted Friday afternoon a giant certificate stating that he has what it takes to be a Winnipegger.
"It's awesome that he's now one of us," said 13-year-old Scott Miltenburg, one of about 200 who gathered at the TD Centre downtown to watch city councillor Jenny Gerbasi make Homer a citizen of Winnipeg.
He's got more star power than anybody."
The City of Winnipeg in conjunction with Global Television, which has carried the Emmy winning series The Simpsons for 13 years, decided to award Homer an honourary citizenship after creator Matt Groening mentioned at the Just for Laughs Comedy Festival in Montreal last year that the loveable cartoon dad was based on his own father, a Winnipeg native.
Homer is the second animated character to which Winnipeggers can lay claim. Another chubby cartoon character of a slightly more orange hue, Winnie the Pooh also has his origins in the prairie city.
Although it's been widely debated whether Homer is actually from Winnipeg -- one girl attending the event said she heard he was from the beerless town of Steinbach, Manitoba -- Gerbasi said where the balding, overweight, yellow nuclear technician was born is irrelevant.
"I welcome you back to our city," Gerbasi told Homer, adding he's a loving, albeit bumbling, father -- the ideal rep for Global Television's Father's Day contest "Is your dad like Homer?"
The ceremony kicked off the contest, asking kids if their dad shares those Homeresque traits: a bulging belly, a love of doughnuts and uncontrollably drooling at the sight of a "burrrger."
In 50 words or less, they can describe why their dad has an uncanny resemblance to Mr. Simpson. Entry forms are available on canada.com.
The grand prize is a trip for a family of four to Los Angeles, California to attend a Simpsons recording session.
And regardless of whether Homer really has his roots in the 'Peg, Gail Asper, president of the CanWest Global Foundation said what really counts is Winnipeggers' dedication to the longest running animated sitcom of all time.
"All we know is that we've been huge Simpsons fans for decades."
An it's a fan base made up of all ages and all types.
Homer, eight feet tall in non-cartoon form, spent much of the brief ceremony swarmed by teens, infants, elementary school students and even adults -- just wanting to be close to their jaundice hero.
"He's watched by everybody -- young and old," said 49-year-old Christine Szabo, a diehard fan, who watches the show everyday.
She said in some small way the honorary citizenship has made her feel all that much closer to the beer-guzzling lug from Springfield.
"It makes me feel like I'm part of their family."
The "Is your dad like Homer?" contest runs from May 30 to June 20.