Mount Penn Peace Sign

2012-11-25
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The Pagoda and the William Penn Memorial Fire Tower are two of three landmarks on Mount Penn. The third is a large peace sign painted on a large rock on Mount Penn facing Reading.

In 1967, LeRoy G. Levan and a handful of friends on break from college decided to paint a giant peace sign to protest the Vietnam War. They all knew people who were drafted and sent to Vietnam. Some of them never came back.

They chose a large rock which was a scar on Mount Penn from quarrying more than a century ago.

LeRoy G. Levan and his friends rented a thick rope, and bought 12 cans of paint. At dusk they headed to the former model-airplane flying area east of Skyline Drive. They tied the rope to a tree and around their waists, and lowered themselves down the steep quarry rock. They worked at dusk to avoid being detected but still have enough light to work.

Once the sign was discovered, city crews covered it with tar. A few weeks later Levan and his crew returned to paint it again. That version has remained.

The sign measures about 30 feet in diameter and is located on Mount Penn north of the Pagoda and about three blocks south of Reading High School.

Today it's hard to spot from Reading's streets. It's tough to see with a full foliage of green leaves and the paint has faded some.

It can best be seen from upper floors of the Berks County Courthouse or in the winter after the trees are bare.

In 2004 LeRoy G. Levan, now an attorney with a practice in Shillington, sent an e-mail to Berks historian George M. Meiser IX, confessing the deed and detailing the creation of the peace sign.

The peace sign's story could have ended in 1967. But since the sign was first painted by the original crew, it has been repainted two other times. Levan has no idea who touched up the sign but is thrilled that they did.

 



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