Central Pa. Steelers fans can hang banner for now
A pair of Pittsburgh Steelers fans in south-central Pennsylvania
will be able hang a banner at their house supporting the NFL team –
at least for now – even though the borough claims the sign violates
a zoning ordinance.
Alissa Myers and her husband, Frank Patti, purchased a
2-foot-by-8-foot “You’re in Steelers Country” banner at a fair
this summer and hung it from the porch of their home in Penbrook,
just outside Harrisburg, when the football season started in early
The couple was notified by Penbrook officials on Sept. 30 that
they were violating an ordinance governing temporary banners. They
were given three choices: remove the banner, pay $40 for a permit
to hang the sign as long as the Steelers’ season lasted, or display
it only on game days.
While the banner has been displayed only on game days since
October, none of the options suited the 34-year-old Myers, a
longtime Steelers fan. She wanted to display the banner much of the
“There’s just a different mentality to Steelers fans, and once
it gets in your blood, it doesn’t get out,” Myers said
She said she developed a fondness for Pittsburgh teams while
growing up near State College, and her devotion to the Steelers was
further solidified while attending Penn State’s Fayette County
A neighbor suggested she contact the ACLU , which took up her
cause and notified Penbrook officials Wednesday that the ordinance
violated Myers’ free speech rights.
“The important issue here is the government can’t tell a
homeowner what messages they can display on their property,” said
Witold “Vic” Walczak, legal director for the American Civil
Liberties Union in Pennsylvania. “It’s a matter not just of free
speech, but of property rights.”
Penbrook’s solicitor Bruce Foreman said the ordinance is
relatively old and that the borough would look into whether it
needs to be modified
Until the borough decides what to do, Myers and Patti can
display the banner.
The banner wasn’t the issue, Foreman said.
“Whether it says ‘Steelers Country’ or ‘Elect candidate X’ …
it just wouldn’t matter,” Foreman said of the area that divides
its NFL loyalties between the Steelers, Philadelphia Eagles and
“I would say the majority of people in Penbrook who are
football fans are Steelers fans,” he said.