Hattiesburger - Really?

Evidently after one hundred and thirty years of existence, community leaders of Hattiesburg decided that residents should have an official name and asked for suggestions from its populace. Behind closed doors, they examined those submissions. I was not privy to the discussion nor in the know on how their debate went. I only know that the decision was presented to the Annual Tourism Partners meeting at the Train Depot, and residents of the Hub City are now “Hattiesburgers.”  
       You see my first reaction in my title. (My computer had a similar reaction, drawing its red line underneath every time I typed it. I’ve added the word to its vocabulary so it won’t keep distracting me from this discussion.) 
        Returning to the wisdom of the name, I pictured the Hattiesburg I know. Any day one waits at the traffic light at Hardy Street and Hwy 49, the screen on the corner of the USM campus flashes student and faculty recitals, Science Café offerings, and experts in various fields for campus events. Its OLLI lifelong learning program offers courses alphabetically from art to technology designed for the over fifty crowd. Recently two days of C-Span were devoted to history and collections from the university and larger community. Three weeks of events from May 30 through June 18 feature arts of all kinds in FestivalSouth (www.festivalsouth.org). Somehow all this didn’t quite fit with the city’s people becoming “burgers.”
       I was not alone. Within days, the area weekly paper had its own take with the news item including the comment, “You can dress it however you like. Hold the mustard or add pickles, onions, and a bit of ketchup.” The cartoon in the same paper reflected the sibling rivalry with neighboring Lamar County that does not always appreciate annexation attempts on the part of Hattiesburg. This brought on my second reaction as I thought about a part of Hattiesburg not so readily noticeable – its ability to laugh, sometimes at itself. Hattiesburg seasons its classy event offerings with a sense of humor – not a bad combination at all.
       As for me, technically I’m not a “burger.” I live outside the city, but I can see it from my front yard so go ahead and pass the mustard.