Columbian graduate restores light to Eagles’ roost

The Tiffin Eagles building now has its neon letters fixed, courtesy of Mike Flechtner, a 1970 Columbian High School graduate.

About six years ago, the sign went out and had never been fixed. Randy Fassler, the head of maintenance at the Eagles, said they disconnected the figure after it went out. Although the sign had been painted, he said it was not the same without the neon lights.

“I always wanted it lit back up. … I grew up on the north end, always coming over the bridge you would see it,” he said. “It’s been a landmark here forever. I just wanted it lit back up again.”

Fassler said when he grew up, Tiffin used to have many neon signs downtown and he hoped to have this display up and running like it did when he was young. Fixing the sign was frequently on Fassler’s mind, and he jumped at the opportunity.

“I actually happened to see Mike on Facebook talking about when he was coming home,” he said.

He asked Flechtner if he would look at the sign.

“Last time I was here, I checked it all out, found out what was wrong with the sign,” Flechtner said.

After finding out one of the letters needed the neon repumped, he went back to California but continued to look for a neon shop near Tiffin to finish the project. When he could not find a shop, he decided to do the work himself.

“It turns out I was coming back over here to deliver some other (neon) artwork, so I thought, I could just bend the letter up as quick as it would take to find a shop out here to get the old one fixed and repumped,” he said.

He drove the letter from California to Tiffin in order to finish the project.

It wasn’t a hard decision for Flechtner to fix the Eagles sign.

“Growing up in Tiffin, I was exposed to the big neon sign out at the drive-in (and) The Ritz Theatre marquee had a big piece of neon,” he said. “All those things were early influences for me, and it always kind of stuck with me.”

Flechtner plans to have an exhibit at Tiffin University in September of neon art. Included are two dozen original pieces in the exhibit he has tentatively titled “Prodigal Son.”