Anonymous individuals have started an online petition asking Mayor Levar Stoney to rename Richmond’s beloved neighborhood Carytown to Garytown. The organizers identify themselves as “an organization focused on bringing about real change to the Richmond Metro Area,” and make the dubious claim that a name change “would provide real, lasting, positive change to the community if we could all get behind a more reasonably named Garytown.”
While this is obviously ridiculous, it’s part of a proud Richmond tradition of semi-satirical events that sometimes catch fire and become something bigger, but more likely fizzle out. In case this one ended up being the former, we decided to reach out to a few neighborhood businesses, such as Carytown Bicycle Company, named after the neighborhood. Although he wasn’t authorized to share his name, an employee told us they “definitely” wouldn’t change their name if the unlikely petition somehow gained steam. “We would stick with the classic name, and honestly, I’d be sad to see the neighborhood renamed,” he said. Although the nature of the call wasn’t very serious, he felt moved to speak about the neighborhood, which he described as a place where “you have so many local businesses together. I think it’s great the way it is, it’s a unique part of Richmond.”
On Facebook, the opposition was a little more open, with one critic writing, “I swear to lort [sic], I’m not living in a place called Garytown!”
At press time, only 25 people had signed the petition, which seems unlikely to succeed. After all, a petition to stop the demolition of the Carytown Burger & Fries building failed despite almost 12,000 signatories. Despite the uphill battle it faces, it’s inspired an alternative petition against the change and a website, garytownsucks.com, which clarifies their stance as “not an organization that is anti-gary, we just don’t want to name a part of the city after them.”
RVA Magazine still isn’t sure which Gary the name refers to. Gary van Warmerdam, a “happiness coach” whose image is on the petition? Gary Busey? The entire city of Gary, Indiana? Requests for comment to the petition creators have gone unanswered, but if anything changes, we’ll be sure to update you. Let us know what you think: Keep Carytown Carytown, or is time for Garytown? Which Gary do you think the neighborhood deserves to be known for?