Glee leaves mark on Lima

First Posted: 3/20/2015

LIMA — By now, the millions of fans of “Glee” have determined if the final episode of the show was fitting.

The popular television show concluded its 122-episode, six-year run with a two-hour finale Friday.

The show now leaves behind a remarkable legacy and leaves a lasting impact in Lima.

The show fictitiously took place at William McKinley High School, based in Lima. The show communicated both comparisons and contrasts to real-life Lima.

Lima Allen County Visitors and Convention Bureau Director of Tourism Cara Stombaugh said the show definitely impacted Lima. Stombaugh said she herself became a big fan of the show.

“We tried very hard to get local things noticed on the show,” Stombaugh said. “That became harder and harder to do after the show grew more popular, but we were grateful for what they did.”

Some of the facts the show managed to portray correctly included the fact that Lima is located in Allen County and in western Ohio. In one episode, one of the more popular characters — mechanic Burt Hummel — wins Ohio’s 4th Congressional District Seat, which is Lima’s actual district. However, other parallels were far and few between. Some glaring differences included palm trees in the courtyard of the high school, and stores such as Mattress Land and Rinky Dinks.

“One thing I did see was that the show portrayed the struggle and internal perception of Lima,” Stombaugh said. “A lot of people feel there is not a lot to do here. Others are more positive and appreciate what is here and what it is like to grow up here, stay here, and raise a family in Lima. I thought the struggles on the show with that were very comparable to Lima.”

While many of the places on the show were fictitious, some local businesses managed to be mentioned or make the show in some way. Some of those included the Meeting Place on Market, ArtSpace/Lima, Kewpee and The Lima News. However, the way the show managed to attract people to Lima most was drawing fans.

“We had a lot of people stop just because they wanted to buy something that said ‘Lima, Ohio’ on it,” Stombaugh said. She said that the show also cast a bigger presence on some things in general such as Lima schools or the Lima Senior Chorus.

“A lot of those things became more noticeable after the show became popular,” Stombaugh said.

Mayor Dave Berger said he watched a few episodes in the early years, and it offered an opportunity for the city to be in the national spotlight.

“If I was speaking at a meeting with people that were not from Lima, I would mention the fact about that show and in being based in Lima,” Berger said. “That always sparked an interest.”

Berger said his wife took an interest in the show, also.

“She was always interested in the fact that they should portray me in the show,” Berger said. “She wanted Denzel Washington to play my part. She likes Denzel Washington.”

Berger said the biggest positive comparison was the portrayal of Lima being a rich arts community, which he felt is true in real life Lima.

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