Word on the Street: That Yard Sign on National Avenue

Since COVID-19 made its first appearance in Springfield, a local has been writing messages to the community with a set of letters in his front yard.

By Megan Dollar

Nov 23 2020 at 12:40 p.m.

The sign at the corner of National Avenue and Loren Street that reads "Turkey naps coming soon"
Photo by Leah StiefermannScott Sturm's latest message to Springfield for Thanksgiving week Purchase Photo

If you’ve driven up Springfield's National Avenue at all this year, you’ve probably seen the line of letters along the edge of Loren Street. “All Zoomed Out,” “Teachers Rock” and “Can’t We All Just Get Along,” are just a few of the messages Scott Sturm has written in his front yard since early April. 

About 32 weeks and 31 messages later, Sturm, a 26-year Springfield resident, is still posting a new message every Sunday night. He says he plans to keep it going as long as “big, bad COVID sticks around.”

Sturm, an AMAX Real Estate agent, knows a lot of people drive past his house every day: In 2017, the Springfield Area Chamber of Commerce estimated 30,700 cars drove on National Avenue between Sunshine St. and Chestnut Expressway each day. Sturm says that, before the pandemic, he had considered selling advertising space in his yard because of its prime location, but, when the country went into crisis due to COVID-19, he decided to use the space for something a bit more positive. In mid-March, Sturm bought his first set of letters off Amazon for $50 and wrote the world “Smile,” at the corner of National and Loren. He says he saw an opportunity to connect with the community and spread positivity from the busy corner where he lives with his wife, Katrina, and two young daughters.

Since then, Sturm has added two more sets of letters to his collection, which has allowed him to expand his messaging. “Turkey Naps Coming Soon,” is his most recent, Thanksgiving-themed note. He’s gotten his family involved, too—his wife is his proofreader and his 5-year-old daughter sometimes helps install the signs. Recently she proposed “Be A Unicorn,” as a future message, which Sturm says he’s seriously considering.

Many neighbors and community members have taken to social media to share praises and their favorite message. Sturm isn’t on social media, which he acknowledges as ironic, but says he has received positive feedback from neighbors and community members in the form of encouraging notes and even a bouquet of flowers.

Some of Sturm’s messages might have provoked giggles, others smiles or maybe even a tearful eye. More than anything, his signs have provided a means of connecting during a time when doing so has been so difficult. They’ve helped Springfield, especially the Delaware, Rountree, Phelps Grove and University Heights neighborhoods, feel more like a community during a time when we need it most.