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Wadena,Minnesota 56482 http://www.wadenapj.com/sites/all/themes/wadenapj_theme/images/social_default_image.png
Wadena PJ
(218) 631-1621 customer support
Honk if you're amused
Wadena Minnesota 314 S. Jefferson 56482

by Sara Hacking,

Staff Writer

Area businesses and organizations are livening up Jefferson Street for drivers with witty, informative and sometimes controversial changeable-letter signs. Some concentrate on community service while others use their signs to express political and religious beliefs.

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Backhanded encouragement to kill deer, humane society dinners, spiritual questioning and 25-year class reunions are all topics addressed on the constantly changing signs.

Perhaps one of the most well-read signs along Jefferson belongs to Taco John's restaurant. Owner David Doll isn't afraid to use wry humour and pointed messages to attract customers and get passersby talking.

"It's fun to try and sell the spicy Mexican food to a bunch of Scandinavians," he said with a laugh about his creative marketing campaign. "Some of the signs say 'pretend it's lefse.'"

He began posting his politically incorrect blurbs a year ago. One of his early memorable signs declared "Good luck deer hunters, Bambi had it coming." The sign in celebration of hunting America's most beloved Disney deer generated a couple of complaints from irritated Bambi fans. Doll said his employees tallied public response to the sign, with 228 who loved the message and two who hated it and said they would never come to Taco John's again.

"I knew that some would react negatively, but I just had a gut feeling that it was going to be OK," he said. "Sometimes bad publicity is still publicity."

The Vikings infamous "Love Boat" scandal and poor performance on the field last fall created ample fodder for Doll's imagination. The self-admitted fair weather fan posted a message urging drivers to "Honk if you don't like the Vikings."

"It sounded just like a wedding driving by here all afternoon," he said about the enthusiastic, horn-honking response.

Even though Doll likes to have fun with his signs, he also uses them to address hot button issues, such as the annual controversy surrounding the word "Christmas." He said the sign that provoked the most dramatic reaction of any other sign stated: "It's my right, It's my belief, Merry Christmas" when Taco John's closed for two days to celebrate the holiday.

"We had so many people come up and say 'I am tired of being in the silent majority,'" he said. "Christianity is 80 percent of the United States and we're all the silent majority."

In addition to his religiously themed signs, Doll advocates patriotism with signs honoring veterans and soldiers in Iraq.

Employees contribute ideas, but Doll writes most of the messages. Manager David Sundheim contributes witty ideas, but said his main job is to edit the phrases so they fit on the board. He does not always agree with what the signs say, though.

"He's the boss, so he can put his beliefs up there," he said about Doll's sign writing.

Doll said he knows it's impossible to please all of the people all of the time, but he enjoys running the restaurant and creating his attention-getting signs.

"Sometimes it's OK, I guess, to be politically incorrect, so long as it's done with a little bit of humor," Doll said.

Bill Stearns' State Farm Insurance sign north of Taco John's doesn't delve into controversial realms, but posts marketing messages such as "We can't spell s ccess without u" and community service announcements.

Stearns, owner and insurance agent, said he acquires the messages from State Farm Insurance cooperative and accepts requests from area non profit groups to advertise events such as humane society dinners and bloodmobile visits. He said he turns down requests from private groups with a commercial interest.

"It's definitely a service to the community," Stearns said.

The Christian Missionary Alliance Church seeks to serve the Wadena community by prompting spiritual searching with their glass-encased brick sign along Jefferson Street South.

"The main purpose is to catch people's attention and to bring questions into their life that they'll seek answers for," said Ruth Richter, administrative assistant. "We want people to feel open to come and join us and to talk to the pastor or someone to answer their questions."

Richter said she tries to change the sign on a weekly basis, except during wintertime.

The staff of AmericInn Lodge and Suites doesn't have the option of letting their sign remain the same all winter. The hotel, which sits on Highway 71 before it becomes Jefferson Street, uses the sign to welcome visitors to Wadena. Kevin Lupkes, manager, said he and his staff wade through snow in below-zero temperatures to change the sign for new guests.

He said summertime is an even more busy season for the sign as AmericInn welcomes wedding parties, class reunions and family reunions. Lupkes said many guests like to pose for a picture underneath the sign welcoming their group.

"It's a neat little advertising tool," said Lupkes about the easily personalized sign.by Sara Hacking,

Staff Writer

Area businesses and organizations are livening up Jefferson Street for drivers with witty, informative and sometimes controversial changeable-letter signs. Some concentrate on community service while others use their signs to express political and religious beliefs.

Backhanded encouragement to kill deer, humane society dinners, spiritual questioning and 25-year class reunions are all topics addressed on the constantly changing signs.

Perhaps one of the most well-read signs along Jefferson belongs to Taco John's restaurant. Owner David Doll isn't afraid to use wry humour and pointed messages to attract customers and get passersby talking.

"It's fun to try and sell the spicy Mexican food to a bunch of Scandinavians," he said with a laugh about his creative marketing campaign. "Some of the signs say 'pretend it's lefse.'"

He began posting his politically incorrect blurbs a year ago. One of his early memorable signs declared "Good luck deer hunters, Bambi had it coming." The sign in celebration of hunting America's most beloved Disney deer generated a couple of complaints from irritated Bambi fans. Doll said his employees tallied public response to the sign, with 228 who loved the message and two who hated it and said they would never come to Taco John's again.

"I knew that some would react negatively, but I just had a gut feeling that it was going to be OK," he said. "Sometimes bad publicity is still publicity."

The Vikings infamous "Love Boat" scandal and poor performance on the field last fall created ample fodder for Doll's imagination. The self-admitted fair weather fan posted a message urging drivers to "Honk if you don't like the Vikings."

"It sounded just like a wedding driving by here all afternoon," he said about the enthusiastic, horn-honking response.

Even though Doll likes to have fun with his signs, he also uses them to address hot button issues, such as the annual controversy surrounding the word "Christmas." He said the sign that provoked the most dramatic reaction of any other sign stated: "It's my right, It's my belief, Merry Christmas" when Taco John's closed for two days to celebrate the holiday.

"We had so many people come up and say 'I am tired of being in the silent majority,'" he said. "Christianity is 80 percent of the United States and we're all the silent majority."

In addition to his religiously themed signs, Doll advocates patriotism with signs honoring veterans and soldiers in Iraq.

Employees contribute ideas, but Doll writes most of the messages. Manager David Sundheim contributes witty ideas, but said his main job is to edit the phrases so they fit on the board. He does not always agree with what the signs say, though.

"He's the boss, so he can put his beliefs up there," he said about Doll's sign writing.

Doll said he knows it's impossible to please all of the people all of the time, but he enjoys running the restaurant and creating his attention-getting signs.

"Sometimes it's OK, I guess, to be politically incorrect, so long as it's done with a little bit of humor," Doll said.

Bill Stearns' State Farm Insurance sign north of Taco John's doesn't delve into controversial realms, but posts marketing messages such as "We can't spell s ccess without u" and community service announcements.

Stearns, owner and insurance agent, said he acquires the messages from State Farm Insurance cooperative and accepts requests from area non profit groups to advertise events such as humane society dinners and bloodmobile visits. He said he turns down requests from private groups with a commercial interest.

"It's definitely a service to the community," Stearns said.

The Christian Missionary Alliance Church seeks to serve the Wadena community by prompting spiritual searching with their glass-encased brick sign along Jefferson Street South.

"The main purpose is to catch people's attention and to bring questions into their life that they'll seek answers for," said Ruth Richter, administrative assistant. "We want people to feel open to come and join us and to talk to the pastor or someone to answer their questions."

Richter said she tries to change the sign on a weekly basis, except during wintertime.

The staff of AmericInn Lodge and Suites doesn't have the option of letting their sign remain the same all winter. The hotel, which sits on Highway 71 before it becomes Jefferson Street, uses the sign to welcome visitors to Wadena. Kevin Lupkes, manager, said he and his staff wade through snow in below-zero temperatures to change the sign for new guests.

He said summertime is an even more busy season for the sign as AmericInn welcomes wedding parties, class reunions and family reunions. Lupkes said many guests like to pose for a picture underneath the sign welcoming their group.

"It's a neat little advertising tool," said Lupkes about the easily personalized sign.

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