SCRANTON — It has become one of the most identifiable symbols of the electric City: the sign bearing Scranton’s nickname.
It’s in rough shape and city officials say it could cost $10,000 to fix all the burned out bulbs.
That’s a $10,000 bill that Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright knew the city couldn’t afford, but organizers of La Festa Italiana, the food festival held on courthouse square every summer, stepped up and offered to pay to replace all the bulbs on the Electric City sign.
That continues a new financial trend for the city having other groups pay for its upkeep.
The Electric City sign as we know it has lit up Courthouse Square in Scranton at night since 2004 but its history goes back to 1910.
The design has become a kind of icon for Scranton, and influenced the pizza shop with the same name on the square. But the shop’s owner says the icon isn’t so bright anymore.
“Even when we were coming here trying to come up with a name for the pizza shop, I mean, we just immediately thought of Electric City. So, when the sign doesn’t look so great, well then it kind of projects bad on the whole image the city is trying to portray,” said John McDonald of Electric City Pizza.
The words “Scranton: The Electric City” have gotten harder and harder to read over time because there are so many bulbs out.
Scranton Mayor Bill Courtright went through old city records and found that the city stopped paying for maintenance on the sign in 2011 so the bulbs likely haven’t been changed since then.
Knowing there wasn’t room in the budget to fix the sign, Mayor Courtright made a public appeal, something he’s done recently in hopes of fixing some of Scranton’s aesthetic problems.
“The colors are going to be a bit different, yellow.”
Organizers of downtown Scranton’s annual La Festa Italiana offered to pay for the installation of all new LED bulbs on the Electric City sign.
President Chris DiMattio says the festival always donates proceeds to charity. This year that charity is the city of Scranton.
“There’s so much pride in Scranton being the Electric City, and it was just something that we had to step up and do. And we’ll get it done, we have a couple months. We’ll get that done.”
DiMattio says fixing the sign should cost about $10,000, money they’ve started to raise.
Mayor Courtright says it’s an appreciated quick fix that will still need a permanent solution.
“We’re going to have to look at how we maintain it going forward, and in fact, maybe we can find somebody to foot the bill for us. We’ll try.”
The organizers of La Festa Italiana say they already have the money to pay for the work to the sign in a reserve fund. They hope to light the new LED sign in time for the festival Labor Day weekend.