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Taste of the big time

The bar at the Washington Hotel in the sleepy, alpine town of Washington was livelier than usual Sunday afternoon during the Super Bowl on Sunday afternoon. A special Super Bowl party – or rather, a special Super Bowl advertisement party – was underway to celebrate an advertisement that was filmed in the town by Ford Motor Co.’s in conjunction with Walt Disney Co. to promote the manufacturer’s new Hybrid vehicle.

So while men and women crowded the old, medium-sized, yellow-painted saloon and cheered for their teams, what they actually waited for was the advertisement they had seen being made right where they live.

The commercial showed Kermit the Frog rafting down the South Yuba River, climbing the rocky banks and finding the new Ford Hybrid. He then introduces the car.



“Both my grandchildren and one of my daughters, they went to see it filmed,” said RC Redmon. “But myself, I don’t walk very well, so I couldn’t go with them. Apparently it turned out very well, and I’m waiting to watch it. We’re recording the show so that we have a copy of it for my grandchildren.”

Inside the bar, the atmosphere was electric. All eyes were riveted to a television perched high against the dusty wall in one corner of the room. Behind the counter, the reflection of the bartender flitted across the mirrors on the wall and the plethora of bottles lined on the shelves. She was dressed to resemble a reporter in her white shirt with a red bow, black pants with suspenders, and a quaint black hat that had the word “press” pasted on it. And while the smell of beer and cigarette smoke filled the air, the anticipation for the advertisement seemed feverish every time the commercials flashed on the screen.




“They shot it (the advertisement) at the corner of my house,” said Allison Anderson, a former mayor of the town. “We were a bit worried about the guy when he first came out because it was raining, and that’s when the flood happened. He came down and asked us where to go, and we told him that the rivers were all overflowing at that point, to please don’t cross them because we have a limited rescue group. But we were excited, and my grandkids got to meet Kermit (the frog who was a part of the commercial).”

Perhaps the people from Disney were not prepared to face the rural setting they had chosen, for, according to Su DeCorte, one of the owners of the Washington Hotel, the people involved had no idea that there is no cell phone reception in the town.

“All the big companies from Disney were trying to communicate with each other and they couldn’t, so they had to slow down a little bit,” she said, and laughed aloud.

The character playing Kermit the Frog was at the hotel during the filming.

“He was having dinner,” DeCorte said. “I didn’t know who he was, and the director came in and was talking to him. And he … pulled out his Kermit thing and talked to the director of the commercial as Kermit.”

When the 30-second advertisement finally aired in the second quarter of the game, the saloon burst into boisterous cheers and loud applause. People stood up from their old, leather seats around the counter and clapped as though their team had already won the game.

“It was beautiful,” said Debbie Moody, ecstatic after it was over. “I was born in Grass Valley and raised up here with grandma on the river (the flows by the town), and I’m so proud to have it on TV.”

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To contact staff writer Soumitro Sen, e-mail soumitros@theunion.com or call 477-4229.


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