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August 25, 2019

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Fabulous’ once again, and no need for surveillance cameras

Graffiti found on 'Fabulous' sign

Graffiti was found Monday morning on the Launch slideshow »

Las Vegas Sign

Legendary Las Vegas neon sign designer Betty Willis, known for her world-famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign, talks about how she created her illustrious masterpiece and the significance of each of the sign's various symbols.

By Tuesday morning, the icon was restored. Well, sort of.

As it turns out, the red ink that vandals used to tag the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign had seeped into hairline cracks in the sign’s translucent Plexiglas backing, so that even after a good wipe, a red smear remained, Clark County public works spokesman Russell Davis said.

Davis was speaking on a cell phone en route to that smear, to see what could be done about it.

Replacing the Plexiglas was a dark thought.

“We don’t want to go there right now,” he said.

He didn’t have to go anywhere. A county graffiti cleanup contractor was able to fix the problem — he made the 50-year-old sign “look like brand new,” Russell said.

The sign is owned by Young Electric Sign Company, where none of the employees can remember it being previously vandalized. Davis can’t remember the sign’s face being tagged either. It is some 10 feet from the ground, he said, which may explain the anomaly. Without a ladder, defacing the sign requires some kind of circus act.

The twin blue poles that support the sign, however, are a different matter. They’re tagged often, by people who usually write their name and date of visit — a sweet little souvenir that’s easily obliterated with another coat of blue paint, Davis said. This kind of routine maintenance is Young Electric’s responsibility — though Clark County pays the company $350 a month for maintenance of the icon. The sign also runs on county power and sits on county land.

This particular case required the special attention of county contractors who specialize in graffiti removal, Davis said.

Metro Police are investigating the vandalism, but the sign company doesn’t think a surveillance camera is warranted because aesthetics outweigh the need, assistant division manager Randy Clark said.

“Could we install a camera? Yes. Would it take away from the sign’s look? Yes.”

Because the company owns just the sign, it would have to either mount a camera to it, or get permission from the county to put surveillance cameras nearby — one option would be unattractive, Clark said, and the other expensive and unnecessary, given the sign’s otherwise unblemished history.

County public works spokesman Davis agrees: “So far, (the graffiti) doesn’t justify it — not for one instance.”

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