'Made in Oregon' sign lit up for holiday season

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by ERIC ADAMS and KGW.com Staff

NWCN.com

Posted on November 19, 2009 at 11:14 AM

PORTLAND, Ore. -- The lights didn't stay out long on the iconic neon that until recently shined across Portland from Old Town.

The "Made in Oregon" sign, which went dark in mid October, will get a jolt of juice Friday, sign owner Darrel Paulsen told KGW.

Paulsen, president of Ramsay Signs, pulled the plug after the University of Oregon backed out of a deal to maintain the sign - in exchange for altering it to read something other than "Made in Oregon."

Portland Commissioner Randy Leonard and the City Council intervened and a feud over the old neon has continued nearly a year now. The city attempted to lay claim to it as a historical landmark. Paulsen and the university agreed on a compromise that would have changed the sign to read "Portland" before the university altogether bowed out.

Without a sponsor or owner the sign went dark in October and each side blamed the other.

But in the holiday spirit, Paulsen said he was personally going to pay the $300 to $400 electric bill that the white stag would generate through New Year's Day. He added that it wasn't fair for all of Portland to suffer without "Rudolph" during the holidays because a few continue to argue over who gets the final say -- on what the sign should say.

That stag, Paulsen noted, has sported a red nose during the holidays as long as many Portlanders can remember.

In October, Paulsen told the Willamette Week the sign costs $20,000 a year to maintain.

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