SALT LAKE CITY — The mayor of Murray has put all 18 inches of his handlebar mustache up for a Fourth of July vote.
Residents told Mayor Dan Snarr to either save it or shave it by giving a thumbs-up or thumbs-down sign during the annual parade Wednesday.
The mayor's wife, April Snarr, said she was tired of being poked by the facial hair and living with a "freak." She campaigned to have it removed, even carrying a giant pair of wooden scissors during the parade to convince voters.
"A nice trim would make me happy," April Snarr said. "I try to kiss him but can't find a way in. And he pokes me in the eye. I think he loses his credibility."
Snarr, who dressed as Uncle Sam and carried a giant poster in the parade that read, "I Want You to Save My 'Stache," wants to keep his stiff upper lip.
"My plan is to keep the 'stache," the 62-year-old said. "People have said, 'That's your whole identity.' I can't take away my identity."
But he said the vote was too close to call after thousands showed up for the parade. He had city officials and family members reviewing parade footage to determine the number of votes cast along the 2½-mile route.
Snarr has been growing the mustache for the past 31 months, but it hasn't been easy.
He said it took about three months and $100 worth of hair products to keep it from drooping. He spends 10 minutes each morning prepping it.
The secret: Big Sexy Hairspray, followed by a cold blast from the hair dryer for five minutes a side, topped off with Crew Superglue styling gel.
Snarr has been mayor of Murray for nearly 15 years, proclaiming himself a member of the DWR Party — Do What's Right.
He had a regular mustache through most of his political life but grew it long as a goal for Murray's centennial celebration in 2003. In 2009, he had residents vote on whether he should shave as a way to raise money for a local children's hospital.
He got creamed in the votes and shaved it in May 2009, bypassing an offer to have Ellen DeGeneres do it live on her daytime talk show. He started growing it again that December, and has kept the white whiskers ever since.
He has support from the St. Louis-based American Mustache Institute, a tongue-in-cheek group dedicated to defending a man's right to sport a mustache even though they fell out of favor in the 1970s.
"They think it's great," Snarr said.
He said the organization believes it may be the longest horizontal handlebar mustache sported by a politician in American history "because nobody else can keep 'em horizontal."
"A lot of young kids think it's pretty awesome," said Snarr's longtime administrative assistant, Rondi Knowlton. "But most of the responsible adults and community leaders and staff would love to see it gone."
It certainly stands out.
"Everywhere we go across America, everybody wants a picture taken with my 'stache," Snarr said.
Wednesday was no different.
"Kids came up and asked, 'Can we just touch the 'stache one more time in case you have to shave?'" he said.