ST. PAUL -- "Plow" Bunyan? "Salter" Mondale?

The Minnesota Department of Transportation has received thousands of submissions like those in the first days of its new "Name a Snowplow" contest. The agency is giving people the chance to name eight snowplows — one in each MnDOT district around the state.

MnDOT communications director Jake Loesch said there were about 8,000 entries just in the first day, after the contest opened on Thursday. They've come from all corners of the state — and beyond.

"There are definitely submissions coming in from across the country, too, which is fun — and a lot of people have flagged (that) ‘I'm in Washington D.C., but I'm a native Minnesotan,’ or something like that," Loesch said. "So clearly, it's got some interest. ... The social media attention has been a lot of fun to see."

"I really was surprised at how fast they came in and how many people were sharing it. I knew it would be something people liked, given the attention we saw last week and people asking about it. But I mean, it's kind of blown me away, honestly."

Newsletter signup for email alerts

MnDOT will accept name submissions on its website until Jan. 22, then pick a slate of finalists. There'll be voting in February to determine the eight winners.

The contest was inspired by a similar naming program Scotland uses for its snowplows, that received some worldwide publicity earlier in the month.

"It's an easy, fun, lighthearted thing we can do to engage the public, and people are really showing their creativity in their submissions," Loesch said.

Scotland lets people track the plows — by name — on an online map. Loesch said that's not yet planned for Minnesota's 511 traffic map, but it could be considered in the future.

"(We could) do another contest next winter ... and incorporate that tracking component in there,” he said. “The possibilities are endless, and we're just having fun with it right now and seeing what we can do to make sure people can follow where their favorite plows go."