INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. (April 6, 2015) - Hundreds of Hoosiers are using the Final Four as an opportunity to restore the reputation of Indianapolis after days of negative attention followed the religious freedom controversy that captivated the national news.
“When the foundation block of your city’s image and brand, 'Hoosier hospitality,' has been called into question, rightfully so, it stings, it hurts and certainly our ability has been impeded. But how we rebound from this and how we move forward is how we’re concentrating our efforts,” said VP of Marketing for Visit Indy, Chris Gahl.
Visit Indy is working hard to put out the fire that was started by the religious freedom controversy.
“Serendipitously, we didn’t realize that the city’s image and brand would be under fire, tied to the RFRA issue we were amidst. So couldn't ask for better timing,” said Gahl.
The organization’s “N-D-Y” white sculpture campaign was in the works months ago, but by a twist of fate, it became Indy’s saving grace. Now the project represents a sign to prove to the world that Indy welcomes all.
“The believability comes from our residents, to their sphere of influence, to those outside of the state to proudly proclaim why they love Indy,” said Gahl.
Hundreds of Hoosiers are taking to these sculptures, and taking to social media to prove a point. We asked you to share with us your love for Indy. Hundreds of you sent your pictures, with mascots, reporters, and politicians all proclaiming “I am Indy…” The hash tags #IndyWelcomesAll and #HoosierHospitality were trending over the weekend, managing to replace #boycottIndiana.
Organizers of the Indy 500 Festival, Indy’s next national spotlight event, are hoping the “N-D-Y” campaign works.
“Indianapolis being on a national stage with the Final Four, it’s going to go a long way and I think that a lot of Hoosiers have gone out of their way to make sure that everyone does feel welcomed and invited,” said Sabrina List, VP of marketing for the Indy 500 Festival.
“Hoosier hospitality isn't something that was made up, it’s true,” said Anne Carroll, founder of “We never serve hate” campaign.
Carroll, along with other employees of stores and restaurants along Mass Ave started their own “We never serve hate campaign” in an attempt to convince visitors this city is still open for business.
“I can just say that I’m proud to be from Indiana and I’m also proud to support this,” said Stephen Ellul, an organizer of the campaign.
Organizers say this is just the beginning and it is going to take weeks, months, if not years, to convince the nation that Hoosier hospitality is real.