October 21, 2021

Public to decide look of Homer village sign

Todd R. McAdam/managing editor

The village of Homer is considering replacing this sign, stirring debate on whether David Harum, a fictional character based on David Hannum, a 19th century figure and among those behind the Cardiff Giant hoax, should be mentioned on the sign. File photo from July 2019.

Homer village residents will get one vote per household in October on three proposed village sign designs.

“This way all the residents get to vote, otherwise I know we’ll never hear the end of it,” Mayor Darren “Hal” McCabe said Thursday during a village board work session.

“I think it makes it fair,” said board member Tim Daley.

The sign proposals — which residents can choose from when the water bills are issued in October — come from residents Victor Siegel and John Hartsock and one created by the village board.

The village board looks to replace the welcome signs, which are old, peeling and starting to rust and rot.

“Home of David Harum” appears on several signs and Hartsock said at a July meeting it should go on the new signs, too. The question of whether to include Harum’s name has brought up a debate on what Homer’s identity is and whether Harum represents it.

David Harum is a fictional character in the book “David Harum” based on David Hannum, a 19th century man central to the Cardiff Giant hoax, who lived in Homer from 1867 to 1892. The book generated two movies, one starring Will Rogers in 1934, and a radio soap opera in the 1940s.

However, Homer Historian Martin Sweeney said in July the signs should just say, “Welcome to historic Homer” with the idea that people could see information on some of the village’s historic figures, including Amelia Jenks Bloomer, who made bloomers popular, or three Homer natives with ties to Abraham Lincoln.

Residents have been debating since.

The village board design is inspired by the Sleepy Hollow signs and features the words “Historic Homer Village Est. 1791” with a picture of buildings from the village’s logo on it.

This proposed design for a “Welcome to Homer” sign provided by the Homer Village Board could be printed in either green or blue. It is among three choices being considered.

“The mine/ours one would also have a choice in blue or green because I’m not going to get in the middle of that battle because there’s passion on both sides of that,” McCabe said.

Some residents want blue because of the school district’s color is blue and the color stands out, but others said there is some reason the brain is attracted to the color green.

Siegel said his idea is less about what the sign will look like than what would go inside of it. Siegel said he wants a sign on which a mini-billboard marketing the village can be placed to let visitors know what’s going on.

“Please think of the entire village of Homer as a new business,” Siegel said in an eight-page essay. “We need to market the village of Homer.”

The mini-billboard would always say “Welcome to Homer” at the top and www.HomerNY.org. However, the message in the center would change as needed and could promote events, such as the Declaration of Independence public reading, he said.

Hartsock’s sign would say “Welcome to Historic Homer, A Friendly, growing community, Home of American folk legend David Harum, settled 1791.” It would include an image of a buggy, as well.

John Hartsock’s proposed sign would include an homage to David Harum, a fictional character based on a Homer man.

“It is only a draft, I should emphasize, and probably will change with the addition of color, among other things,” Hartsock said in an email Friday.

Hartsock said not every community has its own American folk legend.

“Does Cortland have one?” he asked. “No, I’m not even aware Syracuse has one. You look at other communities and we got something for marketing purposes.”

Water bills go out Oct. 1 and must be returned by Oct. 31.