Finalists selected for Sterling Heights' golden circle name -- no butts about it

Neal Rubin
The Detroit News
The Golden Corridor sculpture sits in the median of the divided highway of M-59, Hall Road, in Sterling Heights.

Sterling Heights — The nominations are in for the city's name-the-giant-gold-circle contest, and we now know the winner will not be Ringy McRingface.

Or the Hall Road Hula Hoop, or O Hall Yeah, or Bob, or My Precious, or Oprah's Bat Signal.

Or, of course, any of the many permutations of a crude term for a body part that prompted the contest in the first place.

Continuing to show a refreshing sense of humor for a municipality, the city passed along some of the also-rans as it announced five finalists Monday in the official competition to provide a handle for the 35-foot, 10-ton, steel-and-aluminum icon perched in an M-59/Hall Road median.

Online balloting will roll on through midnight Thursday, with the announcement of the winner set for 10 a.m. Friday. And without further ado, the finalists are:

  • The Aurum. “Aurum” is the Latin word for gold, and the source of its chemical symbol, Au. It is not the first name of the villain in "Goldfinger," which was Auric. The idea was first submitted by Colleen Glodich of Sterling Heights
  • The Halo. “Halo” is a disk or a circle of light, typically found a luminous body such as the sun or moon or a particularly mischievous kid in a cartoon. It's also the first name of Halo Burger, a noteworthy fast-food chain based in Genesee County and perhaps now honor-bound to expand to Lakeside Mall. First submitted by Connie Truszkowski of Sterling Heights.
  • The Overture: “Overture” is an introduction or opening, often to a piece of music — Rossini's famous "William Tell Overture," for instance. Had the golden circle been erected in Utica, voters might be considering The Underture.  First submitted by Deborah Torres of Sterling Heights.
  • The Sun Gate. “Sun Gate” is the name for one of the principal entrances to Machu Picchu, the 15th-century Incan citadel in Peru. Machu Picchu attracts more than a million visitors per year, despite its remote location and lack of a Halo Burger. First submitted by Shannon Geiger of Roseville.
  • The Standing O. “Standing O” is shorthand for "standing ovation," the type of appreciative and enthusiastic response that was not immediately accorded to Sterling Heights' golden ring. First submitted by Melanie Herrick of Detroit.

Sterling Heights Mayor Michael Taylor said his preference is Sun Gate, though like everyone else, he only gets one vote.

The loop “is a golden color like the sun,” he explained, and the actual monument was patterned on an ancient Chinese symbol known as a moon gate, “representing passage into a new dimension, a new area.”

The M-59 gate mostly goes to furniture stores and chain restaurants, but it’s still “the dawning of a new day” — ideally, one where people stop calling the structure the Golden (Crude Word) of Macomb County.

“You can get upset and defensive, but when you do that, it’s 100 times worse,” Taylor said. “If you acknowledge it and let the public have some fun, in the end you can get everybody on your side.”

Of course, he acknowledged, that will be a gradual process. Hence the comment from someone calling herself Marge Elaine on the city's Facebook page:

"I get the 'Au' part on Aurum. Is the 'rum' part because they were all drunk when they decided to approve this big waste-O-money?"

Technically a sign, rather than a sculpture, the ring was erected in mid-January to suggest a portal to the Golden Corridor, a name adopted by half a dozen adjoining communities for the busy commercial stretch of M-59 spreading westward from Interstate 94 to Van Dyke Road.

According to city officials, the circle accounted for $180,000 of a $339,500 signage and beautification project along Hall Road.

It immediately became the butt of jokes, but 6,070 people liked it enough to enter the contest, which allowed three names per submission — a potential yield of 18,210 names.

Community relations director Bridget Kozlowski plowed through them all on her laptop over the weekend. She originally planned to print them out, “but then I realized it was 444 pages, and I wasn’t going to waste that much tree.”

She narrowed the field to about 200, then sat down with a few other city officials Monday morning and chose the finalists.

First prize is $650 in gift cards and a night at the Comfort Inn in Utica. Second- and third-place winners will receive gift cards in lesser amounts, and will have to sleep at home.

Twitter: @nealrubin_dn