Above, Lil Nas X performs the wildly popular “Old Town Road” at the BET Awards in Los Angeles.(Photo by Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP, File) Middle, an example of the signs the Sicamous Chamber of Commerce will be selling in response to interest in and thefts of the district’s Old Town Road sign. (District of Sicamous Image)

Thieves steal ‘Old Town Road’ sign in B.C. as megahit song makes history

Following the theft of the street sign, Sicamous to sell reproductions for $25 each

What was only a road sign in 2018 became a minor tourist attraction this summer in an Okanagan town — and then it was stolen.

A road sign marked Old Town Road has led out to Sicamous’ Old Town Bay for decades, but after the release of a smash hit single by hip hop artist Lil Nas X, the sign took on a new significance for fans of the song.

Old Town Road – the recording, not the roadway – recently broke records by topping the Billboard charts for 17 consecutive weeks. For the uninitiated, the wildly-popular track bridges the country and hip hop genres and features a verse from Billy Ray Cyrus of Achy Breaky Heart fame.

While on a run recently, Sicamous resident Sarah Nielsen noticed the sign marking the left turn off Sicamous Solsqua Road and onto Old Town Road had been taken.

“It was sort of a hit with all the tourists this summer, especially because it’s that age group renting the houseboats. They’re all about finding the perfect Snapchat or Instagram picture,” Nielsen said.

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When putting their family boat in the water at the Old Town Bay Marina, Nielsen said she often sees young people posing for photo underneath the sign.

She said her kids asked to record a music video under it when they had friends in town.

“I have an 11-year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter, they love the song, my son does a dance to it all the time,” Nielsen said.

The District of Sicamous is taking all the interest in the sign, and the accompanying theft, in stride. They are planning to have an Old Town Road sign branded with the Sicamous logo produced and on sale through the Sicamous and District Chamber of Commerce.

“I feel like it shows the positive attitude of Sicamous and how we approach issues, as well as promoting our amazing community,” said district operations manager Joe McCulloch.

He added the district plans to send one of the signs to Lil Nas X’s manager.

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McCulloch said the district already has a policy in place for the sale of street signs which was drafted in response to demand for signs such as the one for Shea Weber Way, which leads to the local rec centre.

“We hope that this brings some smiles to people and also addresses the issue and allows us to cover the costs to replace the signs,” McCulloch said.

Chamber of Commerce executive director Sheila Devost said orders for the signs are already coming in, some from as far away as 100 Mile House.

The first 100 signs printed will be available for $25.


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jim.elliot@saobserver.net

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