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A Bridge Called Bob

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PARIS HAS THE EIFFEL TOWER, NEW York City has the Statue of Liberty, and Avon, Colo., has Bob. That’s the Bob Bridge, of course, the 50-yard, four-lane span across the Eagle River that is the West’s newest landmark. Fan mail has been pouring in since the little Rocky Mountain town (pop. 1,900) opened the bridge last month. “I would very much like to own a picture of Bob,” wrote a South Carolina Bobophile. “Bob is a bridge whose time has come,” said a West Virginia admirer.

Maybe so, but a flash of creativity helped. Louie Sullivan, 32, a construction worker from nearby Edwards, was shopping in an Avon record store when the proprietor invited him to enter the town’s Name That Bridge contest. “The next thing that popped into my head was Bob,” says Sullivan, who insists he wasn’t influenced by the recent wave of Bob-consciousness. He doesn’t own a TV, he says, so he’s never seen the Nissan ads about a driver named Bob, and he’s never even heard of The Bob Book (PEOPLE, July 15), a tongue-in-cheek treatise on famous Bobs. Says Sullivan, who won $250 worth of compact discs for his effort: “It ain’t like I put any thought into it.”

Even before the six-member town council chose a winner from the 84 names submitted, Bob was an instant hit. Radio station KZYR began using Bob in its weather reports (“the sun is shining over Bob this morning”). At a meeting of the town council, when a member formally asked if anyone present objected to naming the bridge Bob, City Manager Bill James began laughing so hard he had to leave the room.

Still, the vote was not unanimous. “They’re making light of all the hard work we did to be able to put the bridge in this year,” says council member Gloria McRory, one of the council’s two nay-Bobs. But even she admits Bob has put Avon on the map. Nissan may use the bridge in an upcoming commercial. Newspapers coast-to-coast and even a radio station in Melbourne, Australia, have praised the town’s refreshing sense of humor. “It used to be that Avon was a town 10 minutes west of Vail,” says town spokesperson Teresa Albertson. “Now Vail is 10 minutes east of Bob.”