CONWAY — In an unprecedented policy change, the Mount Washington Valley Chamber of Commerce, long the foremost local tourism-promoting organization and has changed its motto from "Anything is Possible" to "Go Home, Please."
With urban dwellers from Massachusetts, Rhode Island and New
York arriving to escape the coronavirus, the valley is full of cars with out-of-state plates.
These people are emptying supermarket shelves, clogging up pharmacies and, of course, are potential carriers of COVID-19.
“Normally we love second-home owners and tourists to visit our happy valley,” said chamber director Jan Crawford, “but not right now. We need to be isolated from our friends to the south and respectfully ask them to stay in their primary homes.”
To achieve that goal, the Mt. Washington Valley Chamber has erected a billboard on Route 16 in Albany that reads in bold letters, “Go Home, Please.” And in smaller type, it reads, “And leave the toilet paper in our stores.”
Crawford said her staff decided on “Go Home, Please’ because it sets a respectful tone.
“We want them to welcome back eventually, but not until the viral dust settles,” she said. “And even then, we will greet them at the border with open arms, thermometers and swabs.”
There were several other suggested phrases for the billboards that came from the chamber’s staff that were rejected because they were “less diplomatic,” according to Crawford.
“Some of these came from the gut, but as professional PR people, we had to zip it,” she said.
A few of the rejected suggestions:
• Keep Out: It’s the New Hampshire Way (and take your suburbs with you).”
• “Get the F*** out of town.”
• “Hey Joey, Go Back to the North Shore.”
• “Nothing’s Possible.”
Among activities that had been planned (but canceled already) for the “Nothing’s Possible” campaign were outdoor social distance ballroom dancing classes at local resorts (required was a minimum distance of 20 feet between dance partners); Mountainfest races (all contestants had to be distanced a county apart while competing separately on New Hampshire’s different peaks on different courses at the same time); and stay-at-home online cooking classes.
“We’d planned these events because it’s part of our job to promote the valley. But now they won’t happen because, hey, ‘Nothing’s Possible’ anymore, right?” said Crawford, who said she had to cut the interview short because there was a good movie coming on Showtime.
“That at least still is possible,” she said.