Thursday, March 09, 2006

The Boston Marathon. It's a gas.

"I saw it in my 20th mile, looming like a pyramid above Kenmore Square. It gave me strength, and I knew the race's end was near," said one marathon runner.

The CITGO sign. One of Boston’s most famous landmarks will be your friend or enemy on the Boston Marathon trail. Many runners (like the one quoted above, found on the Citgo website), will tell you that when you see the CITGO sign in Kenmore Square you’re almost home. I say don’t believe it. Run. There’s still some work to be done. And you’ll be looking at that sign for a few miles in Brookline and Boston.

Here’s some interesting info about the CITGO sign that you may not know…
*The sign was built over a Cities Service divisional office in 1940.
*Said to be the largest sign in New England, the CITGO sign is double-faced and measures 60 feet by 60 feet.
*The computer-operated sign illuminates the night from dusk till midnight.
*The sign contains more than five miles of neon tubes - 5,878 glass tubes of neon - that are lit by 250 high-voltage transformers.
*It has withstood five hurricanes, all packing winds over 80 mph.
*The sign was deemed an "Objet d' Heart" by Time magazine, photographed in a 1983 Life magazine and featured in the New York Times.
*In 1968, the critically acclaimed short film "Go, Go CITGO" captured honors at the Yale Film Festival. The flick featured the sign along with music by the Monkees and Indian sitarist Ravi Shankar.
*In 1987, an animated film was made by a local artist to immortalize Kenmore Square's "neon god." Inspired by Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence," the three-minute film "CITGO Dance" won an award from the Artists Foundation's Massachusetts Artists Fellowship Program.
*Every time a baseball player hits a home run over the left field wall at Boston's Fenway Park, CITGO is seen by thousands of fans at the stadium and on television.

The best story I’ve ever heard about the CITGO sign involves outfielder Joe Carter, who played for the Toronto Blue Jays. Joe launched many home runs over the Green Monster in his days with the Jays. So reporters asked Joe why he had so much success at Fenway. He told them he was inspired by the big neon sign over the Wall that said "C-it-go."