Bumper sticker turns 30 today

MARQUETTE – All across the U.P., people have likely seen that green symbol of Upper Peninsula pride stuck to the backs of cars for years – the “Say yah to da U.P., eh!” bumper sticker.

And today, the famed slogan of da U.P. is turnin’ t’irty, eh?

“It pretty much was a hit from the beginning and the funny thing is it hasn’t slowed down that much,” said the bumper sticker’s creator Jack Bowers. “It’s still popular.”

Bowers said he came up with the saying as a parody of the state’s 1982 “Say yes to Michigan!” slogan.

The slogan’s official birth date – the date the first sticker was sold – was kept hidden away in an envelope containing the original receipt for the past three decades.

Since this day 30 years ago, the sticker has had plenty of time to travel across the country, spreading the existence of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula to the lower 47 while also showcasing one of the unique aspects of U.P. culture: That of the famed Yooper accent.

Formed over decades as hearty immigrants from Finland, Germany and other similar countries came to the area looking for jobs in the mining industry, the accent is a living homage to the past.

Peppered with “ehs,” the letter “d” in place of “th,” as well as that oft-ridiculed elongation of the “o” sound – We gotta get da boat ready for da winter, eh – the bumper sticker helps raise awareness to a time-honored Upper Peninsula tradition of sticking to its heritage by spreading a few Yooperisms around the country.

It may even help bring awareness to the nation that the U.P. exists at all, since it’s sometimes left off of maps of the United States

The most recent example of this geographical snub came from the White House, earlier this month when it left the U.P. off of a map showing which states had expanded Medicaid coverage. Holy wah, eh?

It has since corrected the error.

Jackie Stark can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 242.