Chief Theater

The Chief Theater sign was the first to be restored by the Relight the Night campaign.

Historic Downtown Pocatello was the envy of participants from throughout the world during a recent online symposium devoted to the preservation of neon signs.

Randy Dixon, with the city’s Relight the Night campaign, was among 24 presenters at the Neon Speaks Festival & Symposium, hosted virtually in October. Pocatello’s ongoing effort to relight the community’s historic neon signs was one of just six projects featured in a full-page write-up by the symposium.

Dixon, who answered questions and presented a pre-filmed walking tour of the local signs restored through Relight the Night, said the presentation was a “smashing success,” leading many participants to plan on visiting Pocatello. Go to https://bit.ly/33oOwRg to view the virtual tour.

“What we’ve received is national notoriety,” Dixon said, adding he’s been asked to offer his organization’s recipe for success to the head of the American Sign Museum in Cincinnati.

Relight the Night has restored 20 signs in the Old Town area to date and plans to host ceremonies for the relighting of two more signs this spring.

The first neon sign, which once graced the Eagles social club, will be dedicated on March 4, during Historic Downtown Pocatello’s monthly First Friday Art Walk celebration. The sign will be displayed outside of the NeighborWorks building, 206 N. Arthur Ave., where the Eagles met from 1915 to 1949.

“As long as our history shines brightly every night, the history that surrounds them can never be forgotten,” Dixon said.

The second sign depicts the word “Purpose” in neon and will be hung on the old Purpose Building, located at 224 N. Main St., which also housed Petersen’s Furniture and Scott’s Ski & Sports. A date for the dedication has not been set.

Spencer said the group is also working with Don Aslett, owner and founder of the Museum of Clean, about the possibility of restoring the former sign for Fashion Cleaners on Oak Street.

Historic Downtown Pocatello has big plans to build a spacious park with a stage, to be called Lookout Park. Dixon aims to make certain historic neon signs are incorporated into Lookout Park, as well.

Before plans to restore a sign can move forward, Dixon explained several “boxes must be checked.” Relight the Night makes certain to have grants and other funding to cover the cost of restoration, someone willing to cover power and maintenance and insurance addressed before starting a project. He acknowledged there have been signs that his group hasn’t been able to restore.

Dixon believes the neon signs and walking tour represent a great asset to promote local tourism in the downtown area.

“It is creating an atmosphere in Historic Downtown Pocatello. It’s a good downtown and it’s getting better,” Dixon said.