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

Baltimore Ravens.

“I would say the majority of people in Penbrook who are

football fans are Steelers fans,” he said.