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"Richmond" Sign Erectors Confess

Richmonders Landers Salzberg, John Yamashita and Jonathan Martin say they are the ones who constructed the Hollywoodlike sign.

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"We just wanted to come clean," says Yamashita, 31, the co-owner of Sticky Rice restaurant. "Me and my friends put it together and stuck it up there. It's cool."

Not so fast, Yamashita.

"We did this," argues Allen Price, who hosts an afternoon talk show on WRVA 1140-AM. On air, Price maintains that he and his staff built the sign in his garage and erected it near the former WRVA building "not because I was looking for a giant halo over my head … but because we have pride in our city."

Yamashita is aghast. "They're lying," he says.

In fact, he adds, he and his friends took video of themselves putting up the sign — a video they anonymously dropped off at a local television station, which aired it. Recently the sign story hit the news in a big way. "I cannot believe the coverage it got," Yamashita says.

It's been the talk of the city, too.

Yamashita says he and his friends came up with the plan six or seven months ago. But he's been busy. In early November, they finally got their heads together. He says they rounded up $250 to $300, bought quarter-inch plywood, and used stencils and a projector to outline the letters, which are 6 1/2 feet tall and 4 feet wide.

They painted the letters white, built a back brace for each one, and on Nov. 19, he says, "In the middle of the night, we just ran up there, and staked them into the ground, and set them up." It took about 25 minutes, he says.

Why?

"We had Richmond pride," says Yamashita, who shares credit with Landers Salzberg, 24, and Jonathan Martin, 26. Plus, he adds, they wanted to do something.

"I just wish more people in the city would do things that interested them, or inspired them," he sasy. "If they have an idea — get behind it, and do it."

Soon, though, the whole thing will be undone. Because the sign lacks the necessary permits, the city plans to haul the letters away.

WRVA's Price is hurt. "You try to do something nice for the city," he says, and what do they want to do — take it down!" — Jason Roop

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