When crews turned on the sign for The Neon Boneyard Park last night, it was clear that the small park and its atomic decor will not just serve as an accent to Las Vegas’ greatest attraction. It’s a destination in itself, a welcomed time warp in a city that nearly forgot its past.
There are boomerang shaped benches and decorative cinderblock walls, commonly found in mid-mod neighborhoods. A folded-plate roof serves as a canopy over atomic-style tables and chairs. Accented with towering palms, the enclosed city park on the corner of McWilliams Avenue and Las Vegas Boulevard screams Vegas yesteryear.
Millions of visitors have made and will continue to make pilgrimages for a glimpse of the Boneyard’s rescued neon signs, but the park dotted with cement kiosks that tell the neon story is going to be a hit, too. Its giant sign, announcing the attraction along Las Vegas Boulevard, will likely serve as a cherished beacon.
The $1.9 million improvement project was made possible by funds from the Southern Nevada Public Land Management Act. Construction of the park 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 the museum breaks ground on the visitor center inside the La Concha lobby that was moved from the Strip to the Boneyard in December 2006.
The park’s sign uses LED lights, rather than neon – an environmentally friendly decision. Replica letters from older landmarks spell out the word “neon”: the E from Caesars, Ns 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’s 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 last night’s trial run.
“Everyone keeps their fingers crossed at this moment,” says 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.”