Tuesday, July 27, 2021
Smiles Campaign is Not an Ad for Dental Care
The signs at least have given people something to look at while stuck in a traffic jam.
Wednesday, July 14, 2021


Suddenly, Ketchum has gone sunny side up…and we’re not talking about frying an egg on the way-too-hot pavement!

The first sign of a Pollyanna in our midst came in the form of a long orange sign that stretched across the concrete barriers at the big gaping hole at Ketchum’s south end.

Leading off with a piercing eye, it reads “Our secret handshake is a smile and a wave….Stay sunny.”

Ohmigosh! Was able to snap this photo during a rare moment when traffic wasn’t clogging the road!

Those who have ventured onto the newly paved asphalt on the bike path along Sun Valley and Elkhorn roads have found similar admonitions painted in white letters on the asphalt:

“Yield to Oncoming Smiles,” says one. “Stay Sunny,” says another. “If you wave while biking, use all your fingers” says another.

What gives?

Is it an attempt to remind the guests and newcomers passing us on the bike path that it’s okay to exchange “Hi’s” or “Howdy’s” or simple waves? The parade of bicyclists have been pretty dour lately.

Is she smiling?

Is it a plot from local dentists to remind people not to grind their teeth as they’re racing to their destination?

Could it be a response to the signs that appeared last week along Highway 75 between Hailey and Ketchum? The ones that quipped “Eight miles to the California border”? “California, here I come”? And “Welcome to our valley. Please contribute,” next to a donation bucket?

As you might possibly have guessed, the mad sign painter behind all this sunniness is Visit Sun Valley, which some would say did too good a job getting people here during the pandemic.

Ketchum Mayor Neil Bradshaw says, “It’s about paying it forward. Passing it on. Smiling and waving.”

The sunny grinch took to the bike path, too!

Bradshaw said longtime Wood River Valley residents have had to deal with congestion they never expected during the past year, lines to stake out seats in restaurants, Kleenex littering the trails and strangers at their secret fishing holes.

“These sayings remind us to slow down, lay off the horn, pace ourselves, take a deep breath, keep calm and stay friendly,” he said.

Even the Mayor admits he’s a little befuddled with the secret handshake part. Is there a society in Ketchum so secret even he knows nothing about it? Maybe a society of those hard-to-define locals?

Since he knew nothing about it, he returned to his own list of admonitions:

Perhaps this sign should be placed on the highway!

“Stay cool in the heat. Go around with good. Patience is our friend; laughter, our ally.”

Scott Fortner, Visit Sun Valley’s director, said the “Stay Sunny” campaign is in response to the growing negative sentiment about the huge increase in new homeowners and tourists in Sun Valley. It utilizes small quick messages scattered around town.

And you can expect to see additional signs, bumper stickers, posters, banners and chalk art as the campaign progresses.

“We want our valley to remain welcoming to visitors, guest, friends, and families,” said Fortner. “And we want our visitors to help keep the place special and appreciate what the valley has to offer—not try to change it to suit the tastes of wherever they came from, whether that be fast-food chains or gridlock.

“Last year we rolled out our Mindfulness in the Mountains campaign to educate these folks on what the mountain culture is all about.  This year, we have created a 2.0 version of this messaging calling it ‘Stay Sunny.’ ”

Fortner said the “Stay Sunny” campaign focuses on managing expectations as restaurant and other business owners exhaust themselves trying to serve locals, part-timers and visitors in timely fashion when there aren’t enough employees to go around.

The mission is to help visitors and new residents understand how things are done here in order to love and protect Sun Valley. And it’s designed to encourage them to take stewardship of the valley as they travel through town, frequent restaurants and events and explore trails.

“We’re not here to humiliate or belittle out-of-towners. That’s not who we are,” said Fortner. “Instead, let’s use humor and charm to make our point. Remind folks that we'll welcome you into the family if you’re kind and play by the rules.”

As for “our secret handshake?”

“It revolves around the idea that we’re a friendly bunch that likes to smile and wave,” said Fortner. “If you’re one of those folks that finds yourself doing the same, then you’re likely to be easily welcomed into the community.”

~  Today's Topics ~

Harmony Hens-From Farm to Fork

Doctors Urge Vaccinations as Hospitals Fill

Blaine County Education Foundation Gears Up for School Year










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