Highland Park – If you needed to replace lots of burned out bulbs in a sign perched high atop a building, Carl Haney is probably not the first person that would come to mind. The 56-year-old Montecito Heights man is a Japanese antiques dealer – not an electrician or a commercial sign expert. But Haney is not afraid of a challenge – or heights – and is a fan of the historic Highland Theatre sign on Figueroa Street. So when he became aware that many of the sign’s bulbs needed to be replaced, he agreed to do the job as a favor to residents who helped restore and maintain the old sign. “The sign looked tacky when it had bulbs burned out,” said Haney.
In 2011, Haney took photos from the theater rooftop when the sign was relighted, so he was familiar with the structure and its lofty locale atop the 1924 movie house. Haney returned to the movie theater roof last month along with assistant Manuel Lara to replace the broken green and white bulbs. They strapped two trash bags to their belts, one bag contained new bulbs and the other was to collect the burned out bulbs. “I thought it would be fun because I like climbing,” Lara said.
The two men did not use harnesses, they simply grabbed a hold of the sign’s steel framework while they worked. It took Haney and Lara two days to replace about 140 of the sign’s 502 bulbs. They also changed the bulbs of the Manning’s Coffee Store sign across the street.
The most challenging part of the job was changing the bulbs in the “H” and the “D,” which extend beyond the sign’s metal framework. “You are kind of hanging out over everything,” Haney said.”With one hand we are holding on, with the other we were holding the bulbs.”
“It’s not really that bad up there,” said Haney, and the view is “great.”