Smiling Fish Press Release


More than 1,000 chimed in with suggestions from putting the iconic sign at the Point, to a move to the Heinz History Center (PITTSBURGH) Feb. 1, 2014 Pittsburgh Mayor Bill Peduto, County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Jim Wholey today revealed Pittsburghers top location choices for the iconic Wholey’s Smiling Fish Sign and unveiled another “smiling fish” that will add to the Wholey’s Experience.

“I’m beyond grateful and excited at the amount of support this nomination campaign has brought about from our loyal customers and hometown friends,” said Jim Wholey.

“But truly, the most exciting thing for me was talking to customers in the store and hearing their personal stories of what the sign means to them. One customer who lives in Baltimore said, ‘when I see that sign, I know I’m home.’ Hearing stories like that is exactly why we are committed to serving our loyal customers for the next 100 years.”

`The month-long campaign put the fate of the Smiling Fish Sign, which has become a local cultural icon, in the hands of Pittsburghers. Peduto and Wholey encouraged unique suggestions in the spirit of Pittsburgh ingenuity, with guidelines including City of Pittsburgh location. “More than 1,000 Pittsburghers engaged in this campaign and came up with some wildly creative ideas,” said Mayor Peduto. “As we look to the city's bright future, we must remember that long-time family-owned businesses like Wholey’s help make Pittsburgh special. I’m proud to support them in ensuring this iconic sign continues to make memories for the next generation.”

Wholey’s Smiling Fish Sign top five locations according to Pittsburghers (there were several more creative and unique suggestions, most of which encouraged a Strip District location):

1. Heinz History Center (301)

2. Mt. Washington (260)

3. McKees Rocks (188)

4. On or near water (131)

5. Current location (59)

6. Bigelow Boulevard Retaining Wall (40)

“Now that we know what the people want, we will begin contacting property owners and working with the Mayor’s Office to see what is feasible,” said Jim Wholey. “In the meantime, we thought that it might be time for another smiling fish.”

After the press conference, the mayor unveiled the new Wholey’s Smiling Fish Train, which was made locally by the ExOne Company. The train set has been a part of the Wholey’s Experience since 1987 and has logged nearly 120,000 hours, running 12-hours daily.

“For 25 years, The Smiling Fish Sign has become a part of Pittsburgh’s cultural fabric and the Wholey’s Experience. This Smiling Fish Train will add to the Wholey’s Experience and bring more smiles to the faces of children and grown-ups alike.”

The Wholey’s Smiling Light Up Fish Story

The Wholey's Light Up Fish Sign has become a part of the cultural fabric of Pittsburgh. Admired by everyone; it makes us all smile. As the story goes, the legendary sign was erected in 1989 after Robert Wholey Sr. and one of his son’s, Sam, had returned from a trip to Hong Kong. They were both amazed by the giant skyscrapers and at the top of each building was a lighted animal. Mr. Wholey loved this display and told his warehouse manager about it. That Christmas, the warehouse employees made a lighted fish sign as a gift for Mr. Wholey on the front of the warehouse, but it kept blowing off the building. So, Sergeant Electric Company stepped in and erected the sign with their crane at its present location in the Strip District. Today, it is illuminated with highly efficient LED bulbs. After spending 25 years in the same spot, Wholey's is asking the people of Pittsburgh to nominate another location for the Light Up Fish Sign. With its iconic status, Wholey's feels that everyone should have a chance to let their ideas for a location be considered.

The Wholey’s Smiling Fish Train

The Wholey’s Smiling Fish Train was crafted by the ExOne Company, located in Irwin, PA. The train is made from the latest in the up and coming digital printing trade and was printed using 420 stainless steel infiltrated with bronze. Using digital design and powdered metal, the ExOne Company prints layer by layer to arrive at the 3D product.

Other Great, Creative Suggestions:

- Put our iconic fish on the McCullough bridge! I think David McCullough wouldn't mind at all and would probably kind of like the added company and companionship of Wholey's happy and smiling fish! Mr. McCullough is an extraordinary historian and respects his beloved and historic Pittsburgh.

- On a barge so everyone can see it going up and down the river!!!

- I am nominating The Confluence Building. This building is located ON the River Directly Across from the David L Lawrence Convention Center, so every visitor to the Convention Center would see the sign prominently displayed for them right above the water.

- As a former yinzer, I have a perfect spot in south Florida. Time for the fish to be near the big pond for a vacation. Dave's Last Resort & Raw Bar would love to have a smiling fish greet all our Pittsburgh faithful.

- Maybe there's space for the fish at the PPG Aquarium at the Pittsburgh Zoo?

- Please give the friendly fish an opportunity to swim upstream to it's birthing spot in McKees Rocks!!!

- I think it should be placed so it can be seen as you come out of the tunnels. People visiting the 'burgh would love it!!;-)

- Wholey’s may have originated in McKees Rocks; but, now, it’s an icon to ALL Pittsburghers. The fish sign should definitely go the Heinz History Center where everyone can enjoy it!

- My suggestion is Because the smiling fish has always been smiling the happiest place for it would be Mon Wharf where it always floods would always be near water!

- I think THE FISH should remain on the building if the new owner agrees. It was intended for the Wholeys and it belongs there. In addition, it may be an attraction in the future for those moving into the new apartment complex being built, “Yeah, I live in the building with the big fish on it!” If it can’t remain there, then a fish should be near the water and that would be somewhere around the Point, possibly visible for those visiting PNC park! Thanks for getting the people involved. That’s what makes Pittsburgh such a special place. I grew up there and LOVE that I can call Pittsburgh my hometown!

- When I was in my twenties, the Wholey's fish sign was a landmark directing my friends and I to the popular nightlife spot in the Strip District. Since that time, the popular nightlife location has shifted to the other end of the point in Station Square. I would like to see the Wholey's fish near the new fountain in Station Square that gives an excellent view of the city. This location is near many of our family friendly attractions, such as the Gateway Clipper fleet, as well as new restaurants and night clubs. I think this area would add charm and historic value to the area

- The fish is my favorite landmark in Pittsburgh! I would like to see it somehow stay on the same building; or there is a building a few blocks down that I noticed, going towards Lawrenceville, that has the same vantage point from the bridge. It's a Strip District icon and I believe it should stay there. Wherever it ends up, I'm happy it will still be here for our viewing pleasure.