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'Black Panther' Fans Are Screaming 'Wakanda Forever' In Wauconda, Ill.

ARI SHAPIRO, HOST:

The biggest movie in America right now...

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BLACK PANTHER")

FOREST WHITAKER: (As Zuri) I give to you the Black Panther.

MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

You got it. It's "Black Panther." The movie is a hit. And so is the fictional East African country where it is set.

(SOUNDBITE OF FILM, "BLACK PANTHER")

DANAI GURIRA: (As Okoye) Wakanda forever.

KELLY: Wakanda. A beautiful, lush place, incredibly futuristic - monorails, super tall buildings. And it's wealthy.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: The things to do in Wauconda are all season long. We're very happy in Wauconda.

SHAPIRO: I'm sorry, I think we - I think we have a bit of a mistake. That's actually a video about Wauconda, Ill., just northwest of Chicago.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: What I love about Wauconda is the camaraderie. The ice fishing derby is one of the events that I really hold dear to my heart because I'm one of the organizers for it.

KELLY: Now, the Illinois village is spelled a bit differently. There's an extra U in there. But that has not stopped movie lovers from making a connection.

KEVIN TIMONY: The amount of calls from movie pranks versus news inquiries is about even.

KELLY: That is Wauconda, Ill., village administrator Kevin Timoty (ph).

SHAPIRO: He's been inundated with mostly benevolent callers. Some just want to inform them that they are in a movie now.

KELLY: Other, less benevolent callers to shout the "Black Panther" battle cry, Wakanda forever, and then they hang up.

SHAPIRO: Both Wakandas are nice places to live, but the real Wauconda is not quite as futuristic.

TIMONY: We do have a nice downtown, some shopping and restaurants. No high-speed rails or anything of that regard.

SHAPIRO: They are also short on the rare metal vibranium, which is the key to the African Wakanda's power and riches.

KELLY: Case in point - the movie "Black Panther" has earned over $277 million.

SHAPIRO: The village of Wauconda revenue for the last year - just shy of $17,000.

KELLY: Another point of contrast - the population of the African country Wakanda is mostly black. The midwestern village is almost all white, according to the U.S. Census.

SHAPIRO: The two places, different though they may be, are bonded together by the name. And some in the Illinois town are embracing that.

KELLY: Yeah, there's a rumor that some people want to change the name of the Illinois town's high school football team from the Bulldogs to the Black Panthers.

SHAPIRO: Wauconda High School Principal Dan Klett says, don't hold your breath.

DAN KLETT: There's no groundswell to change the mascot. In fact, I just looked at a yearbook from 1958 and the mascot was the Bulldogs in 1958. And undoubtably it was Bulldogs much prior to that.

SHAPIRO: OK, keep the Bulldogs mascot. But can they at least change their cheer?

KELLY: All together now - Wauconda, Ill., forever.

(SOUNDBITE OF LUDWIG GORANSSON'S "THE GREAT MOUND BATTLE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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