Public relations freshman named Mayor of ACL

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Photo Credit: Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

For public relations freshman Lainey Gonzales, the secret to a successful mayoral campaign wasn’t shaking hands and kissing babies — it was dressing up as a Teletubby and handing out flowers.

This year, Austin City Limits Music Festival hosted the second annual open competition for one person to be named Mayor of ACL. After the application opened, participants began their campaign by creating a 15-second video with two official hashtags, “#MayorofACL” and “#ACLFest.” The top three contestants are selected based on the creativity of their video and the video’s popularity on social media sites. Gonzales’ video, after gaining over 9,500 likes on Instagram, won her the title of second annual Mayor of ACL last week.

For her campaign video, Gonzales visited quintessential Austin sites such as the “i love you so much” mural and Zilker Park. She also dressed in wacky outfits, handed out flowers to strangers and said she wanted to preserve the “Keep Austin Weird” vibe.

Gonzales said her duties include representing the spirit of the festival and being “The Ambassador of Fun.”

“It’s supposed to be someone that really loves the festival, and I do,” Gonzales said. “It’s just a utopia. I think music in general is the greatest unifier. Singing a song with 70,000 people with the Austin skyline in the background is great.”

With the title, Gonzales will receive an official proclamation from Austin Mayor Steve Adler establishing her own annual “day” in Austin. ACL will award Gonzales with several prizes including VIP passes to each weekend, a side-stage viewing of a set of her choice, free food and Uber rides, tickets to ACL tapings, and lunch with ACL staff, where she has a chance to detail any changes she’d make to the festival. Gonzales said she wants to create “Hat-urday,” where ACL-goers wear their favorite crazy hats on Saturdays to protect their skin.

“I’m still low-key ­— or high-key, really ­— in shock,” Gonzales said. “I’ll have a ‘day’ in Austin this year, which is so weird. I get to have lunch with the producers and voice my opinion, but I’ve been thinking about it and there’s really not a lot I’d change.”

Radio-television-film freshman Kyle Summers, who filmed Gonzales’ two campaign videos, said watching Gonzales give sunflowers to passersby on the Drag proved she was a perfect fit for the role.

“As soon as I watched the nomination videos from the other people, I knew all the work we put into Lainey’s video put her way above the competition,” Summers said. “I thought Lainey was a girl to stick with for this [project].”

Although Gonzales is now a leader at the festival, her parents established a rule that she wasn’t allowed to attend ACL until she was 16 when she was younger. Gonzales said it was worth the wait and when she was finally allowed to go to the festival four years ago, the first artist she saw was Florence + The Machine. She said this year will be particularly symbolic because she gets to see her again.

“That day in general was so surreal,” Gonzales said. “I don’t think anything will ever beat that day at ACL. It’s still kind of the best day of my life.”

Even with her newly acclaimed title, Gonzales said she is still a planner like many festivalgoers. Although she can appreciate people-watching and setting up a blanket or a lawn chair on open ground, she said she can usually be found in the middle of the crowd in her cats-in-baskets maxi dress.

“I’m very strategic and I want to see all the people I want to see,” Gonzalez said. “The lineups are so overwhelmingly good and I have so many overlaps that I have to make it work.”