Relight The Night - Save Our Signs
On June 20, 2012, the Historic Old Town Pocatello Foundation announced a symbolic new initiative that blends several interests and passions together into one bright, shiny package dubbed "Relight the Night." Downtown enjoys many glowing traditions including an awesome collection of vintage signs. These artistic lights of the night once rivaled those of any city.
However, bit by shining bit, Old Town's beckoning signs have begun to fade into darkness and despair--a stark contrast to the signs of vitality and life so evident in Old Town's many eclectic and artistic events and businesses. The Relight the Night Initiative intends to reverse the deterioration of these community icons--rescuing and restoring these landmarks--large or small--one by one to their former brilliance and glory as jewels of Pocatello's city center.
This restoration initiative/campaign will require what its leaders call "a perfect storm of collaboration,” a community of givers who are passionate about their unique sense of place and a business district willing to create an even more attractive and distinctive destination. This collaborative storm will be accompanied by "SOS (Save Our Signs) alerts" inviting community members and organizations to come to the rescue of a struggling sign.
WHY CARE ABOUT SIGNS?
Signs are essentially social--they identify, promote, inform, and advertise. They direct and decorate. In short, they communicate with their viewers. Signs don't merely advertise, they often possess value in and of themselves. Some become loved simply because of their visibility from a certain street corner or even from a vantage point across town. They create the "magic of the night" and add a burst of color to even the greyest of days!
Yet, historic signs pose problems for those who would save them. On occasion, downtown buildings are sadly reduced to ashes or rubble--leaving their signs essentially "homeless." Or, new business owners and uses may naturally endanger signs as they seek a "new image" rather than one from a by-gone day. These treasures of chasing light bulbs and flickering neon were originally crafted of the finest materials which nowadays can be prohibitively expensive to maintain.
Happily, some downtown signs are treasured and capably maintained by their property owners: Pocatello Electric, Key Bank, The Whitman, Molinelli’s Jewelers, Bangs Office Products, Greyhound Bus Depot, for example. Others, for monetary reasons, experience the misfortune of peeling, rusting, and languishing away--both in storage yards and on the buildings they grace but definitely not as in their glory days.
Fortunately many of these historic signs call out to the "greater community"--they are signatures from the past and reminders of beloved events, places, and people. Such signs allow the past to speak to the present in ways that buildings by themselves cannot. They give continuity to public spaces and become part of the community memory. With so much expense and expertise needed for their rescue, many of Pocatello's signs will require full community involvement and that's why the Relight the Night Initiative came into being.
Under Randy Dixon's chairmanship, like-minded organizers are compiling a growing list of "Signs of Interest" that may need a full rescue or maybe just a bit of resuscitation. Some on the list no longer (or in some cases never did) reside/exist downtown--yet they lit up Pocatello's night skies for decades.
The first sign to be targeted for renovation was the historic Chief Theater sign. This is perhaps the most recognizable and most famous of all the downtown neon signs. Many treasured memories were created at The Chief Theater, from first dates, first kisses and even proposals, many a past and present Pocatello resident has a story to share. The Chief hung over Main Street from 1938 to 1993, when the Chief Theater burned to the ground. It was a community effort to rehabilitate the theater, which was completed just prior to the fire. Only two pieces of the theater were saved, the tile mosaic from the entryway and the sign. The mosaic was first to be restored and now sits at the site of the theater. The Chief sign, now completely renovated stands 50’ tall and brightly shines every night on Main Street.
Please take a moment and view the photos from the Chief Sign installation. A special thank you to all of the donors who made the sign renovation possible!
The third sign to be repaired was the Indian Head Sign on the Pocatello High School Auditorium. The relighting ceremony for the completely renovated sign was held in conjunction with the high school's homecoming in September 2016.
Efforts continue to renovate future signs. The Chopsticks Cafe Sign was recently purchased, repaired and will be relit during a ceremony in May 2017.
We need the community's support to continue our work. Signs on the list for renovation and relighting include the Yellowstone Hotel Sign, The Paris, Harrison Jewelers, Teamsters, F.O.E. Eagles, Fred's Photo and others.
You can be an instrumental part of bringing more light and new life to Historic Old Town Pocatello. Share your pride in our community and please contribute to help "Save Our Signs." Thank you!
You can be instrumental in helping renovate future
signs. Make a contribution today!
Shop, Dine & Play in Old Town Pocatello
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420 N Main St
Pocatello, ID 83204
Portneuf Valley Farmers Market Open Saturdays 9am to 1pm! The Market will be open on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm through the end of October.
Haunted History Walking Tours, October 14, 20, 21, 27 & 28! Tickets are now available for October 20, 27 & 28. October 14, 21 and the VIP tour on the 28th are sold out. Click here for details and to reserve your tickets.
Trick or Treat the Old Town Streets,
Halloween! From 3-5:30pm trick-or-treat through Old Town. Our merchants will have treats for all the kids!
November First Friday Art Walk November 3! Old Town will be alive with crowds this Friday as we host the September First Friday Art Walk. Don't miss this opportunity to view and experience art by local artists as well as regional and national artists. The walk includes over twenty businesses, restaurants and galleries, some with art on display, some with the artist on hand and some providing a live demonstration. Refreshments are always available. You may also find live music along the way. All local residents and visitors are welcome. There is no charge to attend monthly Art Walks.
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