In 1948, the Mayor of the City of Pocatello, George Phillips, passed an ordinance making it illegal not to smile in Pocatello. The "Smile Ordinance" was passed tongue in cheek as a result of an exceptionally severe winter, which had dampened the spirit of city employees and citizens alike.
The ordinance unintentionally remained on the books and was discovered by staff and later by a local reporter who wrote an article appearing in 1987 in the Idaho State Journal. The American Bankers Association chose our outdated ordinance to use in their national advertising campaign, emphasizing the theme of outdated laws to convince the United States Congress to modernize banking laws.
On December 10, 1987, in response to an invitation from Pocatello's Mayor, representatives from the American Bankers Association visited Pocatello and declared our community the "U.S. Smile Capital." Pocatello received a great deal of national and international media attention for the "Smile Ordinance," and in the spirit of fun, the event was perpetuated by making "Smile Days" an annual event.
Traditionally, our status as the U.S. Smile Capital is celebrated with a poster contest for elementary school children, a smile contest, "arrests" of those who do not smile, and a community celebration at the end of the week.
Join the fun and help us celebrate the universal language of a smile! Keep Smiling!