History: Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign

Willis intended to design a sign that was unique in its shape, style and content. Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) currently owns the sign, which leases it to Clark County, while the design itself is in the public domain. The design of the sign was never copyrighted since Willis considered this her gift to the city and wanted it to be in the public domain. This has resulted in the image being ubiquitous on Las Vegas souvenirs.

On October 4, 1999, the sign went dark for about a month when the company that had been paying the power bill was bought by another company who did not pay the bill. When the problem was discovered, payment of the past due amount, under $60, was made, and power was turned back on.

With the sign so far away from the city itself, in 2002, the Las Vegas City Council erected a Welcome to Fabulous Downtown Las Vegas sign on Las Vegas Boulevard just within the city limits of the City of Las Vegas proper.

On March 6, 2007, another replica of the sign, larger than the original, was installed on Boulder Highway just north of Tropicana Ave. Like the original, it does not mark the border with Las Vegas; instead, it “represents the understood gateway from the Boulder Highway to Las Vegas.” This is according to the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority.

Later in 2007, Clark County installed decorative artificial turf inlaid with four playing cards underneath the sign.

On January 31, 2008, the sign turned red in support of National Wear Red Day. The American Heart Association’s Go Red for Women campaign sought to educate the public on women’s risk of cardiovascular disease and promote the importance of women getting screened for heart disease.

On December 8, 2008, a small parking lot was opened in the median of Las Vegas Boulevard to allow official public access to the sign for the first time. The artificial turf was replaced, but without the playing cards. Prior to the parking lot’s construction, visitors to the sign were forced to cross the northbound or southbound lanes of Las Vegas Blvd. without the benefit of any traffic signal or crosswalk. While no one is known to have been killed while trying to access the sign, increasing traffic at the south end of the Strip has made a crossing increasingly dangerous. The new parking lot provides 10 standard parking spaces, two handicapped spaces, and two large spaces for buses or limousines.

On March 13, 2009 Clark County nominated the sign for listing on the National Register of Historic Places with the listing receiving approval on May 1, 2009. (The registration form is available to the public.)

On March 28, 2009 the sign along with much of the Las Vegas Strip was darkened for one hour as the city took part in Earth Hour.

On May 14, 2009, Mayor Oscar Goodman and the Playboy personality Holly Madison coincided the start of summer with the sign’s 50th anniversary. Part of the celebration was making it in the Guinness Book of World Records for the largest bikini parade, followed by pool parties throughout the city. The event kicked off in front of the sign with a runway-style retrospective featuring bathing suits from the 1950s to today.

April 28, 2010, marked the first time the text of the sign has ever been changed. Mayor Oscar Goodman unveiled the new marketing campaign “Camp Vegas.” The sign was adorned with a cover that read “Welcome to Fabulous Camp Vegas.” The event was hosted by Holly Madison, Wayne Newton, Oscar Goodman, and a slew of showgirls and skydivers. The Camp Vegas cover remained over the sign for 36 hours.

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This article uses material from the Wikipedia article “Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign”, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.

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