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The Stars Shine Again At Oceanside’s Historic Star Theatre

Photo by Promise Yee

David Schulz, managing artistic director for Star Theatre Company, is pictured in front of the theater’s neon sign, July 2, 2015.

Oceanside’s historic Star Theatre will switch on its renovated neon marquee Friday night and light up animated neon stars.

The neon sign was constructed in 1956, when the theater was built. It remains the largest and oldest operating neon theater sign in San Diego County.

“We’re the only one that’s still working and that still has a running sign,” said David Schulz, who is the theater's managing artistic director. “The automation at the time, with the lights turning on and off and the fin chasing, was ahead of its time. No one was really doing that.”

When the Star Theatre Company purchased the building in 2000, the neon sign was not working. It had become weathered, and was repainted a different color from its original bright pink.

Concerted efforts to raise funds began two years ago. Profits from ticket sales to the company’s performances were also put towards renovation costs.

The theater company raised $100,000 to fix electrical components, replace hand blown glass tubes, refill neon, and bring the sign back to its former glory.

Repairs were made in phases over the past 18 months. At times, work closed down a lane of Coast Highway in front of the theater.

Schulz said the renovated marquee really shows off its brilliance at night, when the neon stars climb to the top of the 48-foot tall sign.

“I think the neon has a character and a history, and it's kind of romantic almost, kind of harkens back to another time,” Schulz said. “The way neon works, with this gas that runs through a tube that creates color, there’s a warmth and almost an angulation to the color itself.”

A sign dedication ceremony takes place at 7 p.m. Friday during Oceanside’s First Friday Art Walk. On site artists, music and food will be part of the celebration. The Star Theatre is located at 402 North Coast Highway in Oceanside.

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