Las Vegas Sun

June 16, 2019

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Shining new light on Las Vegas’ past

City park next to the Boneyard, a museum of classic neon, is latest effort in preservation

Neon Boneyard Sign

Leila Navidi

The new sign for the Neon Boneyard Park in Las Vegas Monday, November 15, 2010.

Neon Boneyard Sign

The new sign for the Neon Boneyard Park in Las Vegas Monday, November 15, 2010. Launch slideshow »

Neon History

Three historic neon signs were turned on at dusk Monday along Las Vegas Boulevard. The signs, on loan from the Neon Museum, were lit to celebrate the designation of Las Vegas Boulevard as a National Scenic Byway.

Beyond the Sun

Crews switched on the sign for the Neon Boneyard Park in a trial run Monday night, lighting the small park and its midmod décor, which will probably become a destination in itself, a welcome time warp in a city that nearly forgot its past. Located next to the Boneyard — an outdoor museum of old Las Vegas signs near Cashman Field — the enclosed park features boomerang-shaped benches, decorative cinder block walls and a folded-plate roof that serves as a canopy over futuristic-style tables and chairs. Accented with towering palms, the park screams Vegas yesteryear.

“The park is just so gorgeous, a perfect complement to the Boneyard’s mission of preserving iconic Las Vegas history,” says Danielle Kelly, operations manager at the Neon Museum. “The design beautifully merges a contemporary sensibility with the look and feel of classic Mid-Century Modern Las Vegas. The attention to detail is wonderful and full of small touches that are uniquely Vegas.”

The park is dotted with desert landscaping and cement kiosks that tell the neon story. The $1.9 million project was funded by the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act. Park construction began in February, and crews began installing the sign in October. The park opens to the public in December and will be dedicated in the spring when ground is broken on the visitor center inside La Concha hotel’s lobby, which was moved from the Strip to the Boneyard in December 2006.

The park’s sign uses LED, or light-emitting diode, lights, rather than neon — an environmentally friendly decision. Replica letters from older landmarks spell out the word “neon”: E from Caesars, N’s from the Golden Nugget and Desert Inn and an O from the Horseshoe. A red atomic star bursts with white lights. Yellow, green and red stars accent the sign. There is even a red, neon-shaped, LED light that outlines the canopy above the sitting area. The city park and parking area replaced the north Boneyard lot.

Federal Heath Sign Co. designed and built the sign. Tand Inc. is the park’s contractor. Crews had been preparing the sign for the past week for Monday night’s trial run.

“Everyone keeps their fingers crossed at this moment,” said Rick Sawyer, Tand project superintendent, while surveying the park. “This has been seven months in the making. It’s a neat place, a nice little spot. I’m stoked to be part of it.”

The Neon Museum offers daily tours through the Boneyard.

Many of its signs came from Yesco (Young Electric Sign Co.) property. In 1996, the Neon Museum became a nonprofit organization in charge of saving and preserving the signs, some of which have been restored, relit and placed on Fremont Street where placards tell each sign’s story.

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