HELL, Mich. – They're planning a hot time Tuesday in Hell.
Tuesday bears the once-in-a-millennium date of 6-6-06, or, in brief, 666 — a number that, according to the Bible's Book of Revelations, signifies the devil.
Nobody is more fired up than John Colone, the town's self-styled mayor and owner of a souvenir shop.
"I've got `666' T-shirts and mugs. I'm only ordering 666 [of the items] so once they're gone, that's it," said Colone, also known as Odum Plenty. "Everyone who comes will get a letter of authenticity saying you've celebrated June 6, 2006, in Hell."
Most of Colone's wares will sell for $6.66, including deeds to one square inch of Hell. Live entertainment and a costume contest are planned. The Gates of Hell should be installed at a children's play area in time for the festivities.
"They're 8 feet tall and 5 foot wide and each gate looks like flames, and when they're closed, it's a devil's head," Colone told The Detroit News for a Saturday story.
Mike "Smitty" Hickey, owner of the Dam Site Inn, wasn't sure what kind of clientele would show up Tuesday.
"We're all about having fun here. I don't think we're going to get the cult crowd, the devil worshippers or anything like that," said Hickey, whose bar's signature concoction is the Bloody Devil, a variant of the Bloody Mary.
Colone, meanwhile, has been in touch with radio stations as far away as San Diego and Seattle that are raffling off trips to Hell in honor of 6-6-6.
The 666 revelry is just the latest chapter in the town's storied history of publicity stunts, said Jason LeTeff, one of its 72 year-round residents — or, as Colone calls them, Hellions or Hell-billies. But LeTeff wasn't particularly enthused.
"Now, here I am living in Hell, taking my kids to church and trying to teach them the right things and the town where we live is having a 6-6-6 party," he said.
According to the town's semiofficial Web site, there are two leading theories about how Hell got its name.
The first holds that a pair of German travelers stepped out of a stagecoach one sunny afternoon in the 1830s, and one said to the other, "So schoene hell" — roughly translated as, "So bright and beautiful." Their comments were overheard by some locals and the name stuck.
The second holds that George Reeves was asked after Michigan gained statehood what he thought the town he helped settle should be called, and reportedly replied, "I don't care, you can name it Hell if you want to." The name became official on Oct. 13, 1841.