Red Wing’s bid to win an online voting competition and the $500,000 that came with it fell short last week after the city was edged out by a Pennsylvania town, contest officials announced.
Hopes had been running high in the scenic Mississippi River town about an hour southeast of the Twin Cities in the days preceding the Wednesday announcement, especially after Red Wing had surged into the lead of the Small Business Revolution on the contest’s final day. But a late flurry of voting pushed Bristol Borough, Penn., to the top, said Cameron Potts, a spokesman for Shoreview-based Deluxe Corp., the contest sponsor.
“Red Wing was second in very close voting. They should be super proud of what they accomplished,” Potts said. “The community really came together.”
Potts declined to disclose totals, but said the final numbers put the difference between Red Wing and its Pennsylvania counterpart at less than 3 percent. More than 1 million votes were cast for the five finalists, which also included Kingsburg, Calif.; North Adams, Mass., and Georgetown, S.C.
Red Wing received support from across the state and nation. Tweets from Sen. Al Franken and Vikings players Chad Greenway and Kyle Rudolph encouraged people to cast votes for the city best known for its leather, pottery and iconic Red Wing Shoes. The city also held early morning pep rallies and late night pizza parties to encourage people to vote. The high school and the library even stayed open late to provide computer access for those who needed it.
In the end, it wasn’t quite enough.
The announcement, made live on Facebook, was disappointing news for Red Wing boosters, who, clad in red and waving “I [Heart] Red Wing” signs, had packed into the Sheldon Theater waiting to find out who had won.
“Congrats to Bristol Borough, PA for winning the The Small Business Revolution!” a Facebook posting from Red Wing Shoes said. “Good luck with your revitalization, we are cheering you on here in Red Wing. Small towns need to stick together!”
Deluxe received more than 14,000 nominations before narrowing the list to “five fantastic towns” that battled it out to win marketing support for their small businesses, downtowns and broader community.
“We loved every town we visited,” company spokeswoman Amanda Brinkman said during the live broadcast. “We wish all of you could win.”
Tim Harlow • 612-673-7768