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Shades of change

Two Pinellas County women share honors with 153 others across the nation for helping a crayonmaker achieve a new tone.

Two local women, Jeanne Christy and Cheri Clifton, will have a small, colorful place in history for helping rename a Crayola crayon.

"It's my legacy," said 49-year-old Christy, who lives in St. Petersburg, chuckling at her newfound fame. "I'll pass it to my grandchildren. I named a crayon."

Christy and Clifton were two of 155 people who suggested the Indian red crayon be renamed chestnut in Crayola's nationwide contest this spring. Some 100,000 people entered 250,000 hues for the reddish-brown crayon that has been around since 1958.

Christy thought the crayon's shade resembled that of a chestnut horse. Clifton, a self-described "decent wordsmith," thought the new identity should be a word easily understood by children.

"It's exciting," said Clifton, a 53-year-old Pinellas Park resident. "Everyone knows Crayola crayons. But I think it's impressed my husband more than me. He's been going around telling everyone."

As testament to her Crayola fondness, she has two boxes of 64-count crayons sitting on a shelf.

"I love to color," she said. "As I child I colored, and my mom colored with me. I have many fond memories of coloring. I can still remember my favorite coloring books. Crayons are an important part of childhood.

"I've thought about getting a coloring book, but I think my husband would start to worry about me."

The renaming of Indian red marks the third time Crayola has changed a crayon's identity. Prussian blue was changed to midnight blue in 1958 because children could no longer relate to Prussian history. And flesh was changed to peach in 1962 to note that there is no one "flesh" tone.

The company said the Indian red crayon was renamed over controversy that it described the skin color of American Indians. But the name really came from a pigment, often used by oil painting artists, that is found near India. The National Congress of American Indians lauded the name change.

The new crayon moniker _ chestnut _ was announced last week. It will appear in 48, 64 and 96-count packages in September.

According to Crayola, chestnut was selected for its "originality, creativity and appropriateness."

It topped the list of other suggested names such as old penny, ginger spice, buffalo brown and hot meatball red.

The 155 people who selected chestnut received a package of Crayola crayons, chalks, paints and markers and a "Certificate of Crayola Crayon Authorship."

Christy and Clifton, both homemakers and mothers of one grown son each, said they forgot about entering the contest until they found a plain white box filled with Crayola goodies on their doorsteps last week.

"I opened it and my husband said, "Why did you order crayons?' " Clifton said.

"We thought it was the wrong address," Mel Clifton said. "We have so many children in the neighborhood, we thought they brought it to the wrong house."

When Clifton dug to the bottom of the box and found the certificate and letter that said, "You have made Crayola color history," she remembered the name game she entered months before just for fun.

Chestnut was Clifton's top choice of more than a dozen name suggestions she e-mailed to Crayola. To her, it wasn't the most interesting name she submitted, but it was the one that best fit the color and seemed like a good choice for children.

The aspiring novelist also suggested cinnamon toast, terra-cotta and spice. Clifton said she used Crayola crayons as a child and bought them when her son was young. She even used them to help pick out colors for her home.

Clifton said she will display her Crayola certificate on a wall at home but plans to save the new 64-count crayon box with the chestnut crayon inside.

"I don't have any grandchildren," she said. "But, oh, won't it be fun when I do?"