Sunday, September 30, 2007

STOP with a twist

Oak Lawn's mayor hopes drivers who won't obey a stop sign will at least hit the brakes for a stop sign gag.

Workers in Mayor Dave Heilmann's southwest suburb on Friday began installing new red signs beneath existing stop signs to enhance the original message. Won't stop for a traditional sign? What if Diana Ross, in a way, pleads with you?

"STOP," reads one. "IN THE NAAME OF LOVE."

Or how about John Wayne?


There are 16 messages on 40 sign posts. Each is the brainchild of first-term mayor Heilmann, a lawyer and former improv actor who created the signs in response to residents' complaints of blown stop signs.

"I was trying to get people's attention," said Heilmann, 44. "And I'm a little sarcastic by nature, so I thought, let's give this a shot. . . . I think people in government are so serious. I think we need to laugh once in a while."

The signs are going up near Oak Lawn schools. The program could be expanded in the future, the mayor said.

Residents so far have given Heilmann positive feedback -- although, he conceded, "I wonder how many eye rolls there are from people thinking, 'You think this is funny?' "

The village makes the signs in-house. "Our Public Works guys want to shoot me for having them do this when they're trying to do their regular duties, but God bless 'em," the mayor said. "They've been good sports."

Heilmann assumes some signs will get stolen by vandals who appreciate his humor, but promised "we'll put them right back up."

He also assumes he'll be getting some recommendations for future signs. "I'm waiting for the first person to suggest one that says: '[STOP] VOTING FOR THE MAYOR.' "

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