Durango essay winner to lead Thneedville

Nicholas Piccaro would ensure that ‘city is kept clean’

If Nicholas Piccaro were mayor, he would make sure the environment was clean and build a year-round hockey rink. The 13-year-old, sitting in the mayor’s chair in Durango City Council Chambers, was one of four winners of a Colorado Municipal League’s essay contest. Enlarge photo

JERRY McBRIDE/Durango Herald

If Nicholas Piccaro were mayor, he would make sure the environment was clean and build a year-round hockey rink. The 13-year-old, sitting in the mayor’s chair in Durango City Council Chambers, was one of four winners of a Colorado Municipal League’s essay contest.

A new mayor is in town, and he is here to make some changes.

Nicholas Piccaro, son of John and Michele Piccaro, will be named honorary mayor at the Durango City Council meeting Monday night.

The 13-year-old was one of four winners in the Colorado Municipal League’s sixth annual “If I Were Mayor ...” statewide essay contest. Nick was the only boy to win, beating nearly 700 other applicants for the award.

Nick chose to be mayor of Thneedville, the town depicted in Dr. Seuss’s The Lorax, one of his favorite books; it’s even the wallpaper in his bedroom. Thneedville is a city made up of entirely plastic, a problem Nick decided to fix throughout his essay.

Creativity, rhythm and personality set Nick’s essay apart from the others, yet he manages to get his point across perfectly: Keeping a clean environment is the most important task a mayor can have.

“They need some trees and clean air. We can’t find those things just anywhere,” states his opening paragraphs. These are also ideas he has for Durango, too.

“If I were mayor of Durango, I would make sure the city is kept clean and suggest that people reduce, reuse and recycle,” he said.

These are values that have been instilled in Nicholas and his two younger siblings, Annika, 11, and Gabriella, 8, by their parents.

If Nick were made mayor of Durango for just one day though, the plans are slightly different, and more relatable to the mindset of a teenaged boy. Opening a year-round rink for ice hockey, a sport he has been playing since he was 5, and constructing a bike path leading from the Piccaro family home in Junction Creek down into town are of top priority.

Most of Nick’s advice for the town of Thneedville focused on cleaning the city, making sure everyone and everything was healthy and ensuring that others are enjoying the outdoors just as much as Nick does, along with adding a 7.5 percent sales tax. This tax comes with a promise to be dropped once the city is healthy and has a bright future, something John, Nick’s father, attributes as a typical promise of most politicians these days, but agrees with Nick nonetheless.

“We had nothing to do with this essay; it was all Nick,” said Michele Piccaro, a stay-at-home mom.

The honor is accompanied by a $500 savings bond, a certificate of achievement, and an invitation to read his essay at the 91st annual Colorado Municipal League conference Friday in Vail, which Nick will attend with his father.

Nick’s plans for the future are a little premature, but his fondness for cars may lead him to be Durango’s next best mechanic rather than mayor – in 10 years or so, of course.

Emily Griffin, a summer intern at The Durango Herald, is a Fort Lewis College student. Email her at egriffin@durangoherald.com.