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Lompoc Eyes Temporary Name Change Thanks to Pokémon Craze

Move would capitalize on electronic-game's popularity while hammering home the proper pronunciation of city's name

The city of Lompoc is pondering a temporary name change in order to capitalize on the popularity of the Pokémon Go craze. Click to view larger
The city of Lompoc is pondering a temporary name change in order to capitalize on the popularity of the Pokémon Go craze. (Janene Scully / Noozhawk photo)

A temporary name change could capitalize on the Pokémon craze while also finally hammering home the proper pronunciation of Lompoc.

The LomPokemon switch earned the approval of the Lompoc Valley Chamber of Commerce & Visitors Bureau board of directors on Wednesday. 

“They thought it was a great idea,”  Chelsea Cochran, Chamber of Commerce executive assistant, said after the board approval.

But the plan still needs one critical OK — approval from Pokemon Company International — before proceeding.

"We like to think it shines a spotlight on Lompoc, albeit in a silly way,” Cochran said.

Pokémon Go, a mobile app downloaded on smartphones for free, exploded on the scene this summer as a location-based game where players use the device's GPS capability to find, capture, battle, and train virtual creatures, called Pokémon. Those creatures  appear on the screen as if they were in the player’s location.

Several spots in Lompoc are Pokémon stops, with crowds of players, glazed eyes focused on smartphones, seen gathering at several locations in Old Town Lompoc, La Purisima Mission and elsewhere in the city.

“That’s been really great for Lompoc to have those be hotspots for the game,” Cochran said.

A community member proposed the temporary name change.

“It was just kind of a really quirky idea,” Cochran said.

A name change would be temporary, likely to span a day or a weekend in conjunction with LomPokémon-themed activities to market the city to visitors.

“It’s just to bring attention to our community,” said Ken Ostini, president and chief executive officer of the Chamber of Commerce. 

There’s another bonus for the small city’s residents who bristle at the mispronunciation of Lom-poke, often called Lom-pock in error.

“Honestly, that’s part of the appeal,” Cochran said. “Everybody knows how to pronounce Pokémon for the most part.”

The city’s name comes from the Chumash with translations reportedly being “stagnant waters,” “lagoon” or “little lake” reportedly referring spring flooding.

The name-change item appeared on the agenda for the Lompoc City Council’s Aug. 16 meeting, but was removed without discussion because the chamber was awaiting other approvals. 

If the Pokemon Company approves the temporary name change without copyright concerns, the matter will be taken to the City Council for a detailed presentation, Cochran said.

The game also encourages healthy habits as players must walk to incubate and hatch eggs. 

A date for the LomPokemon weekend has not been picked, since the new name is pending corporate approval. 

A temporary name change isn’t unprecedented.

Topeka, Kansas, did something similar when it became Topikachu for a day in 1998 to mark the debut of Pokemon in the United States.

With the release of Pokémon Go this summer, businesses are offering discounts for capturing Pokémon with their logo and Visit Tokeka's website spells out key destinations for game players.

Noozhawk North County editor Janene Scully can be reached at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Follow Noozhawk on Twitter: @noozhawk, @NoozhawkNews and @NoozhawkBiz. Connect with Noozhawk on Facebook.

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