Yuma Sun, Mara Knaub, Associated Press
Yuma Mayor Al Krieger stands by a life-size cutout of himself in Yuma, Ariz. on June 16, 2011. When placed in hotel lobbies, the cutout of the mayor wearing a raincoat and toting an umbrella will signal an official cloudy day, triggering Code Gloom, a promotion that will offer hotel guests free meals on sunless days.
YUMA, Ariz. — At a "top secret rendezvous" June 16, as the invitation noted, members of the Yuma Visitors Bureau unveiled a new promotion for the coming year: Guests at participating Yuma hotels will dine free on cloudy days beginning Aug. 1
In a nod to Arizona's centennial, the bureau reached back 100 years to come up with the "historic" promotion beginning Aug. 1. A photo circa 1912 shows the Pilot Knob Hotel offering "free board every day the sun doesn't shine."
The bureau noted that a lot might have changed in Yuma over the past century but one thing hasn't: "the reliable sunshine that favors this Southwestern town an average of 350 days a year."
"Since Yuma is known as America's sunniest city, we think that this is a perfect way to shine a light on our climate and celebrate a century of hospitality," said Susan Sternitzke, the bureau's executive director. "It's a natural — literally."
True to the original promotion, the "free board" campaign will provide complimentary meals at participating restaurants for registered guests of participating hotels.
"If it's cloudy, we do have a system in place," Sternitzke said.
An officially sunless day — Code Gloom — will be declared by a committee of bureau staff, board members and meteorologists as of 5 p.m. Hotels will announce an official sunless day by placing a life-size cutout of Yuma Mayor Alan Krieger, clad in a raincoat and toting an umbrella, in their lobbies.
Hotels then will validate and date-stamp "free board" certificates that guests can present at a variety of restaurants for a complimentary meal valued at $10, with a limit of two meals per room.
The certificates include a few survey questions and will serve as the bearers' entry in a drawing for a grand prize to be announced.
The bureau is also encouraging other area businesses to come up with their own specials, discounts or giveaways for Yuma's rare sunless days, which average about 15 per year.
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Is picking up the tab for a party of thousands a big gamble to take in what's still a recovering economy? Sternitzke and her members don't think so.
"Gloom isn't part of our outlook," she said. "Sunshine is something you can take to the bank."
The bureau announced the promotion with a short film that featured staffers frolicking in the rain with raincoats and umbrellas. Then the director yells, "That's a wrap!" and the camera pulls out to reveal the Yuma Fire Department providing the "rain" because, well, it doesn't rain much in Yuma.
Information from: The Sun, http://www.yumasun.com