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Another video shows the real mayor of Duluth, Don Ness, leaping into icy Lake Superior.

"I've laid down the gauntlet," he boasted after emerging from the lake, a drenched white T-shirt clinging to his frame. "All right, you other mayors: You want Google Fiber, you jump in Lake Superior."

At press time, Sarasota, Fla., had jumped into the mix. In a move from Topeka's playbook, the coastal city changed the name of its City Island to Google Island. Campaigners took shots at Topeka's boring landscape and Duluth's freezing weather in their YouTube video, which contrasts those dreary images with tropical vistas of Sarasota.

These examples, while easily dismissed as silly publicity stunts, underscore the importance of Google's project. And it may be that the Google decision-makers find themselves swayed by such antics. The company symbolically changed its name to "Topeka" on April Fools' Day.

Russell Nichols  |  Staff Writer