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  • Tara Crutchfield

Godzilla Vs. Mothra

Swans? More like yawns. Zebra Longwing Butterfly? But why? It’s official. Lakeland and Winter Haven have new city symbols.

After reviewing the abilities and weaknesses of many creatures in the MonsterVerse, Mayor Bill Mutz chose Godzilla to be Lakeland’s new symbol, and Mayor Brad Dantzler tapped Mothra for Winter Haven on March 16. Both mayors signed executive orders despite many detractors. Rumors are swirling around what caused this sudden power move. A source close to Dantzler and Mutz say they’re just a couple of buds that like to get together with candy and popcorn for ‘Mayor Monster Movie Nights.’

“This is Pandemonium!” shouted Lakeland Mayor Bill Mutz as a fire-breathing beast rose from the murky depths of Lake Mirror behind him. “That’s the title of this sculpture, “Pandemonium.” I like it, it’s catchy. And look at that guy, so scary! It’s like, ‘Ahhhhh! Godzilla, no! Don’t destroy our city with your atomic breath!” he chuckled during the official unveiling of the concept. The statue will be Lakeland’s largest public art project of 2022.

The stone statue of Godzilla will protrude from Lake Mirror with fountain features to give the effect of water cascading off his 210-foot frame. The tallest structure in Lakeland currently is the Lakeland Electric Building sitting at 148 feet. That will not be the case come summer 2022. The installation “Pandemonium” was designed to tower over all in its path. “You know, like in the movies,” said the project’s lead architect.

A fire feature will shoot 50-foot flames from the open maw of the monster, and LED lights mimicking Godzilla’s atomic rays will shine from his back spikes. The atomic rays can sync up to music and display different colors. The city plans to use this festive feature during the holidays, pairing Godzilla’s atomic rays with classic Christmas tunes. To assist citizens in keeping time, speakers around the lake will emit an earthshaking roar every hour, on the hour.

The art installation will cost taxpayers an estimated $412M. With such a slash to the city budget, it looks like Lakeland may be in store for an even more restrictive road diet as they won’t be able to afford any more road.

Many businesses who have embraced Lakeland’s former symbol, the swan, for their name or logo are upset with the mayor’s hasty choice. “Now my brewery doesn’t make any sense,” said a local brewery owner. “The permitting process to change it to Godzilla Brewing has been a bureaucratic nightmare.” Apartment communities, tattoo shops, retail stores, doctors’ offices, even the City of Lakeland itself will have to get with the program and join the rebrand.

Things aren’t faring much better on the county’s east side, either. Mayor Dantzler’s executive decision to make Mothra the city symbol will have a comparable economic impact with hundreds of art fixtures, the purchase of a radio station, and the cost of repainting planes.

The City of Winter Haven’s former mascot and the official butterfly for the state is the Zebra Longwing Butterfly. Its graceful black wings banded with yellow were no match for Mothra’s reflective scales and telepathy. Rodan, King Ghidorah, Behemoth, King Kong, and Methuselah were all close to claiming the title of Winter Haven’s official symbol. “Scylla was popular with the commissioners, but she’s a Spider Titan, and I have arachnophobia,” said Mayor Dantzler. “The City’s mascot is already a butterfly, and I mean, come on – supersonic flight, antenna beams, stinger blast, silk, wind. The list for what makes Mothra cool goes on and on.”

Last year, artist Gillian Fazio completed the Haven mural on the Alan L. Ulch building downtown. As part of the city rebrand, Fazio has been asked to change the butterfly atop the letter ‘A’ into Mothra shooting energy beams at the letter ‘H.’

Senior art majors at Polk State College are constructing Mothra hanging installations that will dangle from trees in Central Park and spew silk at passersby. Winter Haven is in talks with the Auburndale Rotary Butterfly Garden to replace all butterflies with moths and change its name to the Auburndale Rotary Mothra Garden.

Since telepathy is one of Mothra’s primary abilities, the City of Winter Haven purchased its own radio station WWMZ where citizens can hear “All Mothra, all the time.” The station will play city announcements and news with interspersed giant insect growls.

Winter Haven is also known as ‘The Seaplane Capital of the World.’ All seaplanes at Jack Brown’s Seaplane Base will undergo a Mothra makeover so the community can enjoy our new city symbol anytime a seaplane takes flight. Discussions about installing prismatic beams on the planes are ongoing.

The city mascots have been finalized, and there is no recourse for those who disagree with the creature feature choices. Citizens opposed to the official city symbol changes are asked to “Chill out,” according to a joint statement from the mayors. If you have any Godzilla or Mothra-related public art ideas for Lakeland or Winter Haven, please email

Images by Ella Doyle


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