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Sterling Heights — The city is rebranding the thing it put up in January to rebrand its business corridor, and the three people who come up with the best names that don't include a crude word will combine to win nearly $1,000 in gift cards.

The 35-foot golden circle in the middle of an M-59/Hall Road median has been the butt of endless jokes, with "butt" being a key part of most of the mirth and assorted Facebook pages.

There's "The Golden (Crude Word) of Macomb County," for instance, and "Sterling Heights Golden (Crude Word)," and "Brother of the Golden (Crude Word) of Sterling Heights," and ...

Well, you get the picture. So did the city, said community relations director Bridget Kozlowski, "and we laughed at it behind closed doors with everybody else."

But — or perhaps "however" is a better word — the 10-ton, $180,000, steel-and-aluminum ring isn't going anywhere.

It's still supposed to suggest a portal to the Golden Corridor, a name adopted by a half dozen communities along M-59 between Interstate 94 and Van Dyke Road. It's still supposed to represent hundreds of hotels, restaurants, retailers and office buildings.

And OK, it still looks at least a little like a giant Funyun.

"But in the end," Kozlowski says, "this is going to be a legacy in Sterling Heights. We want to give this icon a name, not let internet trolls decide what people will call it."

Hence the online contest, which drew 650 submissions in the first four hours after the city announced it on Facebook on Monday. 

Entries are due by 5 p.m. Friday. The city will choose its three favorites and post them on Facebook for public voting March 25-28, with the winner to be announced March 29.

Few of the early entrants shared their notions. There's $650 in gift cards at stake for first place, after all, plus a free night at the Comfort Inn Utica. No sense giving your inspirations away for free.

All of the old names surfaced on Facebook, though, so "our social media coordinator has been spending her whole day hiding profanity," Kozlowski said.

Kozlowski offered no hints to what the judges might be looking for. At least it's clear what they don't want.

Use that as a guideline — and if all else fails, there's always Ringy McRingface.

nrubin@detroitnews.com

Twitter: nealrubin_dn

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