Why do they call it Wayne, America?
WAYNE, Neb. -- It's not Wayne, Nebraska, it's Wayne, America. Waynites have affiliated themselves with this slogan for years now, but where did it come from?
Lyle George, a Wayne native who now resides in Seattle, was a pioneer of the term “Wayne America.”
“When they were doing the water tower, the new water tower on the east side of town, it just lit up in my head that we need to do something,” George said. “Actually went to the city council and persuaded them to do a change order on the contract on the painting of the tower and they agreed.”
However, there were some Waynites that were against George’s proposal. The painting of the tower raised taxes on every citizen in Wayne by 35 cents.
“I do remember when I first did it, it was controversial,” George said. “‘You raised my taxes!’ I figured out that it was like 35 cents a citizen; and this guy was ragging on me about how much our taxes are, and I said: ‘Man I am sorry I put you out, let me give you all the money right now.’ If you really whined at me, I would give you 35 cents, but no one would take it because they didn’t want to sound cheap.”
George went on to say why he thinks the slogan is unique. He said it has a different effect on people unlike most other towns.
“People will sometimes look at it and go: ‘huh?’" George said. “What that has done, has made your brain do something. You’re not just gazing and assuming things; something was different, it caught your mind and made you think. And once you make someone actively think, even slightly, it suddenly bakes it into the mind. So, I believe the Wayne America thing really helps keep Wayne America more at the forefront of people’s thoughts."
Wayne Mayor Cale Geise said the slogan is like a tag for all those living in the town.
“It’s just that something is interesting you know, maybe it is human nature, but we definitely think we have something special going on in the community, right?” Giese said. “Maybe that is every small town, but that's something that is like a calling card that allows us to have that uniqueness that other towns don’t have.”
Setting themselves apart from other cities in Nebraska, Giese said he believes that Wayne just has that X factor that no others have.
“I think that Wayne, America signifies that X factor and the differentiation between us and every other town,” Giese said. “Is it Wayne, Nebraska? No! We’re talking about Wayne, America, here. We put ourselves on the map in a unique way.”
Giese also shared why he thinks the town feels much bigger than it actually is.
“I think it is the perfect blend of small-town life, but yet, providing those amenities that make living in a city beneficial. So, you're kind of getting the best of both worlds,” Giese said. “We are right on the cusp there.”
Waynites and college students alike continue to call the town Wayne America.