Heard About a Christmas Truce? There’s One in the Great Midwest Mitten War


At least one geopolitical struggle has eased this holiday season, and a temporary peace reigns — around the Great Lakes, that is. This is because Wisconsin and Michigan appear to have buried the hatchet in their epic struggle over which state has the most legitimate claim to the mitten metaphor to describe the shape of their homeland.

Sounds like big stakes, eh? Well, despite the thorniness of the issue, Michigan and Wisconsin tourism officials today managed to declare a truce in the mitten war and even their joint establishment of a philanthropic effort they’re calling The Great Lakes Mitten Campaign.

“We encourage everyone in both states to ‘shake hands’ and donate mittens to help make this winter a bit warmer for those in need,” Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker said in a press statement announcing a handful of mitten-dropoff sites around the state.[more]

At first glance, it didn’t appear that the Michigan tourism folks could get Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder to weigh in for the cause of peace (even though he and Walker share GOP affiliation). In fact, even on closer inspection, it seems as if Michiganders weren’t as able as the Wisconsin folks to let go of this tiff as easily: A graphic posing the question “Who Is the Real Mitten State?” still appeared on the PureMichigan.org site on Tuesday along with an announcement about the shared mitten campaign.

And in the fine print of Wisconsin’s announcement, it looked as though the tourism forces to the west of Lake Michigan might be plotting yet another sally against the forces to the east. That’s because Wisconsin announced plans for Milwaukee-native writer and producer David Zucker — of Naked Gun and An American Carol fame along with his brother, Jerry Zucker — to shoot a TV spot on Friday for a new Wisconsin Tourism Department winter marketing campaign.

While Wisconsin said it would be running the spot initially in places like Chicago and Minneapolis rather than Detroit, certain Michiganders are likely to take notice. They include actors Jeff Daniels and Tim Allen, who have been known to harness their own talents in the service of Michigan tourism.

Some ancient grudges die hard, even at Christmastime.