Lil Nas X’s first single, “Old Town Road” has been the number one song in the country for 19 weeks straight, breaking the previous record held by Mariah Carey for her 1995 single “One Sweet Day,” featuring Boyz II Men. But all that chart-topping success can come at a price, especially for the town of Wellesley, Massachusetts, a suburb of Boston that is home to a street named “Old Town Road.” Thieves stole the street sign bearing the record-breaking single’s name a total of three times in the last few months, according to the town’s website.
“Wellesley's Old Town Road is a TV star!” the Wellesley website states, celebrating a news report about the missing street signs. “The Town of Wellesley hopes the recent, humorous publicity will help discourage individuals from taking Old Town Road signs or any other town street signs in the future.”
According to the folks from Wellesley’s website, “each time the signs go missing, replacement costs can add up to $280, not including installation labor.” It is also a safety concern; street signs are essential for first responders.
Until the song fades from popularity, city officials have decided to keep the street sign empty.
But “Old Town Road” isn't losing steam. Even after it’s done at the top of the charts, the song will remain a beloved genre-fusing number that single-handedly brought back the cowboy boot industry and Billy Ray Cyrus.
According to CNN, Wellesley isn’t the only town with this problem. Sicamous, British Columbia, is also experiencing some minor fame after so many of their “Old Town Road” signs were stolen, the city started to sell replicas as a way to deter thieves.
"If you want one of these signs, rather than stealing it, we'll sell you one," said Mayor Terry Rysz to CBC. "It's a wonderful way of dealing with a negative and turning it into a positive, and at the same time, it's promoting our community."
The city started to sell the signs on their Facebook page and so far have made over 100 signs, which go for $25 each. They might even sell out.
"We put it on Facebook. Next thing you know, it has kind of gone nuts," Rysz told CBC. "They are selling like hotcakes already."
Besides the missing road signs, Mayor Rysz thinks that the bit of “Old Town Road” fame they are experiencing is a blessing for the small Canadian town. “We're a tourist-driven community and so this is another form of marketing for our town. It's something that I think has been a wonderful idea,” Rysz concluded.
Maybe the good people of Wellesley can borrow the idea from their Canadian neighbors, and just start selling copies of their beloved road signs — at the very least it could offset the cost for all of those replacement signs.