The vertical tower of neon light hovering above the historic Uptown Theater has been a bit darker recently, but it might soon be fully illuminated again, according to theater management.
The bulbs that light up the entrance’s canopy are still gleaming at night, but many of the bulbs that adorn the neighborhood’s iconic Uptown marquee lie dormant due to old electrical wiring.
“We’re not ignoring it. It’s just that it’s not as easy as you would think to fix it,” said Mike Wills, manager of the theater.
Wills said fixing up the theater’s outdoor lighting has been an ongoing issue for two years and has been difficult to correct because the electrical wiring inside the 50-foot tower is nearly a century old.
“It’s an old building. It is what it is. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of effort to fix something like this,” Wills said.
“The problem is that the design of the building is such that you have to go up on top of the marquee to actually reset the breakers when they go out,” Wills explained. “I have to call somebody in and, like a lot of technicians, they don’t just drop what they’re doing and come over.”
Some theater patrons have noticed the lack of illumination from Uptown’s towering identifier in recent years.
Carroll Rasch has been loyal to the Uptown Theater since the summer of 1966 when he first moved to the area. The 65-year-old St. Louis Park man said he had fond memories of dates with his wife inside the art moderne-style theater.
“I remember going back to the good old days,” Rasch said. “I saw all those Fred Astaire-Ginger Rogers films there on the big screen.”
Rasch said he was pleased to see an effort to relight the Uptown marquee and wished Landmark Theatres, the chain that operates the theater, would even restore the beacon light that once whirled around the very top. But Wills said he didn’t anticipate that part to ever work again:
“Obviously it’s 70 feet in the air and I haven’t been up there to take a look, but I think we’re kind of taking it one step at a time.”
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