October 22, 2015

Red Key's Neon Needs Help

Red Key's Neon Needs Help

INDIANAPOLIS -- The neon sign that’s lit up the corner of 52nd Street and College Avenue for about 65 years features an empty Manhattan glass with a cherry, the notes to the early 20th century tune “How Dry I Am”… and a red key.

In the sign business, nothing burns brighter than neon, says Mickey Levy, owner of Sign Services.

"There’s really nothing prettier than well-made, well-lit neon, it’s a beautiful thing," Levy said. 

Levy grew up in the Broad Ripple neighborhood, and as a boy the Red Key was on his paper route.

"When I went in there to collect and I’d sit down at the counter and order a glass of water and I thought I was a pretty hot kid," he said.

When the bar owner needed to rehabilitate the iconic neon sign, of course they turned to Levy, says Mike Thierwechter, who runs the bar’s website.

"I’m trying to figure out who else can we get because a lot of people who are known around town come in because it’s that kind of place," Thierwechter said.

But replacing the sign isn’t cheap. It’ll cost about $14,000 dollars.

"And then I start thinking crowd funding,"  Thierwechter said. 

So Thierwechter, set up a Go Fund Me account, so far they've raised about a quarter of their goal. But the fundraising campaign is about more than money.

"People are making really nice comments on their donations," Thierwechter said.

"Like comments from people that just drive by, that don’t necessarily come in here, but saying it would be a shame for that sign to go away,"  said bar owner Jim Settle.

You could think of it as an effort to save a piece of Indianapolis history…one note at a time. 

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