The Rename Game

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In July, when 17-year-old Alex Yoder learned state and local legislators had decided to rename the Ringling Bridge after businessman Gil Waters, who had advocated for the new span, the shy, self-described “news geek” turned into an activist. Local Ringling landmarks, including the bridge, had inspired Yoder to research his hometown’s history, and he wanted […]


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In July, when 17-year-old Alex Yoder learned state and local legislators had decided to rename the Ringling Bridge after businessman Gil Waters, who had advocated for the new span, the shy, self-described “news geek” turned into an activist. Local Ringling landmarks, including the bridge, had inspired Yoder to research his hometown’s history, and he wanted those landmarks to help keep other Sarasotans connected to the past. The Booker senior created an online petition to reverse the renaming. He was shooting for 200 signatures, but in two weeks, he collected more than 4,000. The media picked up the story, officials quickly backtracked, and Waters got a plaque while the bridge kept its historic name. The experience has furthered Yoder’s interest in politics, although he plans to pursue a career in broadcasting, which is “kind of the opposite,” he explains. “I don’t think I’ll start anything else. But I’ll get behind other people and help them.”