Mayor Carty Finkbeiner rose to a podium in downtown Toledo yesterday afternoon and imagined himself before an audience in London.
As the video screen behind him flickered to life, he launched into an introductory speech that was written to prove to the globe why Toledo deserves the title "world's most liveable city."
Images of Fifth Third Field and the Veterans' Glass City Skyway flashed overhead, and the mayor declared Toledo, "one of America's great cities."
"Certainly not the largest, or the smallest, but one of the proudest," Mayor Finkbeiner said before the mostly empty main auditorium in Fifth Third Center at One SeaGate.
"In many ways, Toledo is the essence of middle America: a community that enjoys the best of big-city life and small-town friendliness."
Yesterday was merely the rehearsal.
The mayor was preparing for a presenta-tion that he plans to give sometime between Wednesday and Nov. 27, when he and 12 other Toledoans travel to London to compete for the top prize in the International Awards for Liveable Communities, which is endorsed by the United Nations.
Toledo is one of seven award finalists worldwide - and the only one from the United States - among cities having a population of between 200,001 and 750,000.
Mayor Finkbeiner has said that winning the title would be a boon for the city because it would help convey the high quality of life here for companies that consider locating in Toledo.
Following the 40-minute presentation of photos, videos, and speeches, Mayor Finkbeiner said that $35,000 in donations has been raised so far for the delegation's expenses.
He expects that to reach $40,000 by Wednesday, when the delegation is scheduled to depart for Chicago from Toledo Express Airport to catch a connecting flight to London.
Each member of the delegation is paying his or her own way to London, and no city money has been spent on the endeavor, he said.
Amid images of lush metroparks, the sparkling Maumee River, and the city's spectacular summer fireworks shows, talking points of Toledo's strengths flashed on the screen:
"Inviting Waterfronts. Picturesque Views. Alternative Energy Leader. Clean Safe Water. Walleye Fishing Capital Of The World."
The video portion of the presentation concluded with actor Jamie Farr.
"It really is a wonderful American city," Mr. Farr said of his hometown. "It really is a cross-section of the world. You can be proud if you live here."
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