Charlie Hewitt’s “Hopeful” sign is installed on the side of Bates Mill No. 5 by workers from Neokraft Signs in Lewiston on Friday morning. The sign, a larger replica of one the Lewiston artist made for Woodfords Corner in Portland, resembles roadside signs from the ’50s and ’60s. Andree Kehn/Sun Journal Buy this Photo

LEWISTON — Neokraft Signs hung artist Charlie Hewitt’s “Hopeful” sign on the side of Bates Mill No. 5 on Friday morning and the city announced a call for hope. They’re looking for submissions to be read aloud during the sign’s lighting Dec. 31.

“As we started thinking about getting the word out about (the lighting), we thought, ‘Well, what are people hopeful for?'” said Lincoln Jeffers, Lewiston’s director of economic and community development.

That answer can be just a few words or a sentence written to the city’s Facebook post about the effort and doesn’t have to be specific to 2020. They’re due by Dec. 30.

“Just trying to get folks gathered around and come out,” Jeffers said. “It’s a nice way to start the New Year.”

Hewitt, a Lewiston native, conceived of the 30-foot-long aluminum sign last year, first hanging a smaller version on Woodfords Corner in Portland last May.

“My family came down those rivers in the ’20s, and there’s new (immigrants) here now,” Hewitt said in an interview earlier this month. “It’s just a silent prayer … for my community, that we can get together again and embrace what makes this great.”

The lighting ceremony on New Year’s Eve will start at 6:45 p.m. with officials and Hewitt saying a few words, then reading some of people’s entries on what they’re hopeful for. The sign will be lit at 7 p.m.

Hewitt’s hope is to have it stay lit 24/7 for years to come.

Project Manager Patrick Bolduc at Neokraft Signs, where “Hopeful” was built, said hanging it 20 feet up the side of Bates Mill No. 5 facing Main Street, even in the freezing temperatures, went off without a hitch.

“We work outside in the wintertime, so this is just another day at the office for us,” Bolduc said. “I’ve driven by it a couple times — it just looks super awesome. I can’t believe how good it looks.”


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