Saved and Restored: Taft Stadium’s old neon sign glows again

Great State
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OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- It's not easy restoring that old flame, the one that burns so bright in memory, and, then, fades with time.

But this sign points to one exception, a neon treasure saved from a field.

"I just hear story after story every time we show it," says Jim Gleason, who led the charge to plug it back in.

He continues, "I could see it but until the day we lit it up I had no idea it was so beautiful."

A lot of the people involved in saving this part of the old Taft Stadium sign were on hand to see in complete.

The people at GS Sign Services threw a little party Thursday.

Leon Wilson is the guy who saved it from demolition crews more than 20 years ago.

"To me it was a real, vital part of history," he says.

He stored it in his pasture until restoration work began.

"What do you feel like looking at it now," asks a reception visitor?

"It looks excellent," he responds. "It looks brand new, like it did in the '40's and '50's."

Brian Young and his nephew 'Biscuit' did most of the sanding, wiring, and scraping away of bird droppings.

They were, says Brian, "trying to be as pure as we could to the way they would have done it in the 1930's and early '40's."

There are still lots of people around who might remember the midget car races from the '40's or the bright Friday night lights from decades of football games.

The sign that illuminated those time is back from darkness.

Gleason says, "As soon as we lit it up for the first time we were almost speechless because we felt like we went back in time and were standing in front of the stadium."

It glows again brighter now than ever.

The Taft Stadium sign is likely headed for a museum instead of its original May Avenue location.

Its owners would like to see it as one of the centerpieces of a new facility dedicated to old billboard and signs.

For more information on their efforts go to www.billboardmuseum.org

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