HANNIBAL, Mo. — A local team of residents combined their efforts to encourage the hosts of the upcoming HGTV show "Home Town Makeover" to perform a citywide makeover as part of a national contest focused on small towns.
Hannibal Chamber of Commerce Executive Director McKenzie Disselhorst said she enjoys watching shows like HGTV's "Home Town" series with Ben and Erin Napier, and she saw the request for citizens of small towns to apply for a makeover when the six-episode series airs in 2021. Disselhorst instantly thought "we would be a perfect fit for that," but she hadn't yet heard about fellow residents taking the opportunity. Several people asked her if Hannibal was going to apply, and she soon met with City Manager Lisa Peck and Northeast Missouri Economic Development Council Executive Director Corey Mehaffy, who both agreed the application process was an excellent idea.
The three local officials discussed the unique architecture throughout Hannibal, its rich history and some of the areas in town most in need of renovations -- with assistance from Code Enforcement employees.
"We hit the ground running, and took a bunch of pictures and some video," Disselhorst said. "I worked on the narrative and Dave Hirner, from Flying Squirrel Aerial Optics, put some drone video with our photos and overlaid it with our narrative."
As the team members drove around town and looked through pictures, everyone discovered something unique. Disselhorst said each person contributed a unique set of resources, and the collaborative effort brought everyone closer as they highlighted what makes Hannibal special through images, video and spoken words in one spot.
"That's a great outcome of this process," Disselhorst said. "Even if we're not selected, I feel like that's a win for our community in and of itself."
Disselhorst said applications came in to HGTV from small towns all over the country -- the volume of applications caused the website to crash several times in the days approaching the Feb. 4 deadline. She stressed that many businesses and households are investing their time and money in renovation projects, and the "Home Town Makeover" would provide a boost to the positive things that are already happening all throughout the community.
"I think Hannibal's a good candidate, not only for those reasons (Hannibal's architecture and natural beauty), but with our history and our presence with tourism," Disselhorst said. "I think Hannibal would be a good spot to make for interesting TV episodes —which maybe not every small community is going to have -- so hopefully that will set us apart as well."
Disselhorst said she felt Hannibal residents would offer the Napiers a warm welcome as they prepare for the large-scale project. The couple made the jump from restoring homes one at a time to performing a makeover throughout their hometown of Laurel, Miss., and they are eager to expand their work when the next community is chosen.
"This is a big one," Erin Napier said. "HGTV has never, ever taken on a whole-town renovation and restoration project, and we're so proud and excited to be leading the team that will get it done. Show us those photos and videos. Tell us what makes your town special and how you'd like us to help make it better. You may see us in your town soon."
Disselhorst said the application process is a way to boost the #HannibalProud initiative launched during 2019's bicentennial festivities — helping inspire residents' pride in their community — whether or not Hannibal is selected for the makeover.
"If you really take an objective look at what's going on in our community, we have so many things to be thankful for and so many things to be proud of," Dissselhorst said. "We really just want to help other people feel that."