Some business owners said there is a lot of traffic downtown, and neon signs could attract attention.
Town leaders who voted to ban illuminated signs said neon light is tacky.
Councilman Jack Smith called the signs "honky-tonk."
Far beyond matters of taste, downtown business owners said the signs would at least give them more attention at a time when they are competing against huge malls and Super Wal-Mart.
Four downtown Cary shops have gone out of business in the past six months.
It is not just illuminated signs that are banned. Cary prohibits shops to have sandwich boards, or even balloons. Violaters who are caught must pay a $100 fine.
The town has made compromises, like allowing shops to put up twinkle lights in trees. But some said that will be a flash in the pan come winter, when the nights are longer.
WRAL tried to interview town leaders who voted for the neon ban, but they were unavailable.
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