Now that Columbus, Ohio Mayor Andrew Ginther has pledged to take down the city’s statue of Christopher Columbus, another hope is on the horizon for the city’s connection to Columbus’ legacy.
A Change.org petition is now going around to rename Columbus to Flavortown, as recognition of Guy Fieri’s efforts in his home. The conversation was started by Tyler Woodbridge, who lived in Columbus for over seven years, and who believes the removal of the statue isn’t enough. “Even though it's my favorite city, I was always a bit ashamed of the name,” Woodbridge told CNN.
The 32-year-old launched the petition to honor the celebrity restaurateur. Flavortown is a catchphrase Fieri often uses on his Food Network shows. The petition hit its 50,000 signature goal on Tuesday afternoon and is now shooting for 75,000.
Woodbridge characterizes Fieri as an extremely “charitable man,” citing the fact that he has helped raise over $20 million for restaurant workers amid the pandemic, and that he’s officiated over 100 LGBTQ weddings. "That kind of optimism and charitable work embodies more of what Columbus, Ohio, is about rather than the tarnished legacy of Christopher Columbus," Woodbridge told the outlet.
Woodbridge said that the expression coming from Fieri is a perk, and isn’t the major reason why he’s vying for the name. Woodbridge views Columbus as a “melting pot” of various cultures and said the name would celebrate the city’s “proud heritage as a culinary crossroads and one of the nation's largest test markets for the food industry,” according to the petition.
Budweiser caught wind of the initiative and offered to supply free Bud Light Seltzer for Columbus residents should the name officially be changed to Flavortown.
Woodbridge now lives in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and said he’ll drive back to Columbus to hand over the printed petition to city officials. Other ideas have been floated as well, including naming the city after an Indigenous figure, which Woodbridge supports. He just doesn’t want the city to bear Columbus’ name.
“We as a culture in America are waking up to how bad of a person he was,” Woodbridge said. “Now is the time for progressiveness. It's a time for change.”
Mayor Ginther recently announced that the Columbus statue outside of City Hall would be removed. “For many people in our community, the statue represents patriarchy, oppression and divisiveness. That does not represent our great city, and we will no longer live in the shadow of our ugly past,” Ginther said in a statement, per CNN affiliate WTTE.