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Mount Washington Observatory Turns to the Polls to Pick Next Mountain Mascot

Responding to a mountain of national publicity, Observatory will conduct its own feline primary on Election Day to help choose its next mountaintop cat

MOUNT WASHINGTON, NH – When Nin, the longtime feline mascot of the Mount Washington Observatory, came down off the mountain on December 26 and entered retirement, it was done with little fanfare. However, to cat enthusiasts around the country, this was one remarkable cat that lived in one amazing location.

What began as a little human interest story in the Conway Daily Sun quickly became a national and international wonder. News of Nin’s retirement made its way to newspapers, television stations and websites across the nation and around the world in the days that followed his descent. From the New York Times to the San Francisco Chronicle and all points in between, the story of Mount Washington's retiring extreme-weather cat has touched the hearts of thousands of people.

Now taking this feline phenomenon one step further, Mount Washington Observatory is teaming up with the Conway Area Humane Society to select the next Mount Washington mascot in the same way New Hampshire voters will pick their next President. On Election Day, visitors to the Mount Washington Observatory website can vote in the "Mount Washington Mascot Primary" for the kitty contender they believe should claim the vacant seat atop the peak. 

Campaigning on such themes as, “Free fish heads for everyone,” the kitty candidates are ready to go paw to paw. Fueled by the sudden surge of interest, these furry contenders are pumped.

"We are all astonished at how the story snowballed," said Scot Henley, executive director of the Mount Washington Observatory. "Observatory members have sent us newspaper clippings from a variety of places around the country where the story appeared –California, Arizona, Washington, Virginia, virtually everywhere. I personally saw a photo of Nin on the cable news channel at the Philadelphia airport while I was traveling for the holidays. I was dumbfounded."

The story of Nin's retirement has also drawn a large response from generous cat lovers around the country.

"We have received over 70 emails and dozens of calls from people around the country looking to donate new cats. While we couldn't possibly accept those donations, we wanted to give the public a chance to help pick our new mascot," said Henley. "So, we decided to hold this first-in-the-nation feline primary.”   

Virginia Moore, Interim Executive Director of the Conway Area Humane Society, sees this campaign as a way to build awareness for both organizations and help the Observatory find a fitting feline to add a warm, homey feel to the frigid mountaintop weather station.

"With the long, rich history of cats on Mount Washington, we wanted to make sure we could help the Observatory staff find a cat with the right character for living in such a unique place," said Moore. "We're delighted to participate in this campaign and we're looking forward to seeing which one of our furry feline friends gets voted top dog on Election Day."

Three kitty candidates have been picked by Moore and the staff of the Conway Area Humane Society. The contenders – Sarah, Wilson and Marty, along with their photos and biographies – appear on the Observatory's website, www.MountWashington.org and on the Conway Area Humane Society’s website at www.conwayshelter.org. On Tuesday, January 8, polls will be open for visitors to cast their vote and choose the mountaintop’s next meowing mascot.

Mount Washington Observatory is a private, non-profit, member-supported organization with a mission to advance understanding of the natural systems that create the Earth's weather and climate. Since 1932, the Observatory has been monitoring the elements in one of the most extreme locations on Earth, using this unique site for scientific research and educational outreach. For more information and to learn about the many benefits of membership, visit MountWashington.org.

Click to visit the Mascot Primary page and vote on January 8, 2008!

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