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Elm City Neon continues to shine by design for almost 40 years

Caplan works to restore old beer and vintage soda signs, he is always taking on new projects – custom-made for clients.

HAMDEN, Conn. — The owner of Elm City Neon in Hamden, Fred Caplan has been using his expert hands for the past 37 years he plies his craft using the noble gas that illuminates neon signage displays across the state. 

“Yes it will wake you up,” laughed Caplan. “Some people want something for their wall, some people want something for their store, it’s all different it’s never the same.” 

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Caplan’s shop looks more like a playground for the cable TV show “American Pickers”, as there is neon Americana and vintage signage hung up, or meticulously placed, in every corner of the two-story workspace. 

Using all the tools of the neon trade, Caplan added that he especially likes bringing customers' old neon works back to life. 

“I like restoring signs, if someone hasn’t had it lit in 30 years and they call me up and we get it lit, it’s nice,” he said.

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While Caplan works to restore old beer and vintage soda signs, he is always taking on new projects – custom-made for clients. 

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The outlines for a new neon sign for the famous Ernie’s Pizza in New Haven are now sitting by a workbench. “I enjoy every day of it,” said Caplan, “it’s like getting paid for a hobby.”

To learn more about Elm City Neon and to see some of their works visit El City Neon's website.

Jimmy Altman is a reporter at FOX61 News. He can be reached at jaltman@fox61.com. Follow him on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

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