GENEVA – The Geneva Chamber of Commerce brought 92 bags of popcorn to the City Council meeting May 21 to represent the 440,000 people who popped into Geneva in 2017. The chamber’s annual report to the City Council was theatrical in nature and gripped the attention of everyone in attendance.
“The money we have allocated for advertising benefits every business in Geneva whether they are a chamber member or not,” Geneva Chamber Board Chairman Scott Lebin said. “We advertise Geneva as a shopping, dining and lodging district that brings people from all over. The festival events bring people to everyone’s door and many will visit throughout the year. Our website has received over a million visits, and we know there are more during the festivals than any other time.”
Lebin referenced the movie “Miracle on 34th Street” as he encouraged a group of people in the hallway with bags in their hands to make noise as a part of the presentation.
“We have the same problem as a great classic movie in 1947 had, the ‘Miracle on 34th Street,’” Lebin said. “In that movie, Judge Harper was asked to rule if Santa Clause existed or not. He was in a political quandary because his grandchildren, children, his wife and everyone in the room was mad at him. The defense attorney rose to make a plea. There was a commotion in the hall. There was a loud commotion in the hall."
People in the hallway shook the popcorn bags they were carrying as Lebin directed them to make noise.
“I have the impact of these festivals and the impact on the city of Geneva, the businesses and the people,” Lebin said. “I have the proof here. Here in the same way in the night like in the ‘Miracle on 34th Street.’ Would you like to see the proof?”
Mayor Kevin Burns told Lebin he did in fact want to see the evidence the chamber had prepared for the City Council.
“Proof is critical so I would ask kindly as on behalf of the council and those tuning in, please deliver said proof,” Burns said.
Around 10 people associated with the Geneva Chamber of Commerce ran into the City Council room with 92 bags of popped popcorn and stacked them up near Burns, the aldermen and staff to demonstrate the people who visited Geneva in 2017.
“Each kernel in the  bags of popcorn here, represents how many people popped into Geneva in 2017,” Lebin said. “They came for festivals but also came back to shop and to eat throughout the year."
Chamber Board of Directors and Treasurer Susan Huang explained how they advertise.
“The 440,000 kernels you see here represent the people who popped into Geneva during our festival time in the last year,” Huang said. “We create and print 50,000 visitor guides every year and distribute them in many places. We advertise in newspapers and magazines, and we also do a lot of digital and email marketing, image mobile marketing, pop-ups on websites as well as radio and TV. We’re also telling them the next festival that is coming up each year. This doesn’t happen by chance. The Geneva chamber does this advertising and is driving this popcorn truck.”