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Article updated: 9/26/2013 11:39 AM

Dancing hot dog doesn't pass muster in Algonquin

By Lenore T. Adkins

What could be more entrepreneurial than trying to drum up some business by hiring a guy in a hot dog suit to dance in front of one's fast-food business?

Turns out Richie Vaia's take on the sandwich board is illegal in Algonquin, where his Day Go Dogs is located.

Such innovation violates no rules in Lake in the Hills, which is across the street from the hot dog joint at 2761 W. Algonquin Road. So, for now, Vaia's live advertisement is dancing on the other side of Algonquin Road.

That helps, Vaia says, but he's still steamed at the village's ordinance, which carries a fine ranging from $25 to $1,000. He received a cease-and-desist order from the village last month.

"They don't allow us to do anything in that town, it's pretty ridiculous," Vaia said. "They're pretty strict about everything. They're very unfair, if you ask me."

But village officials say their sign laws are in part a safety issue, designed to protect drivers and pedestrians who may be distracted by signs that move, flash and are portable, said Michael Kumbera, assistant to the village manager.

The dancing hot dog man falls within the definition of portable signs, one of about 30 that are not allowed in Algonquin. Local sign laws also are designed to maintain a uniform appearance of signs, Kumbera said.

The law means Vaia also had to abandon plans to use an $1,800 LCD window display he bought to promote his business through words and photographs.

Vaia says he bought the hot dog costume for $150, had a friend wear it on the sidewalk in front of the eatery, gave him a pair of big white mittens and a radio and told him to start dancing.

Vaia is also using traditional forms of advertising that include mailing out 30,000 fliers to promote his business.

For now, it looks like that may be his best bet, as the restrictions aren't going anywhere.

"There's been no discussion at the board level for any time of amendments or discussion," Kumbera said.

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