The Blue Angel is coming down to Earth

After 61 years, the Blue Angel was removed from her pedestal by the City of Las Vegas and YESCO for restoration early in the morning in Downtown Las Vegas, Nev. on March 29, 2017. Once restored, the plan is to return her to the City and display her on a triangle shaped traffic median at the corner of Charleston and Fremont.
Photo: Mikayla Whitmore

The Blue Angel has gotten a reprieve. Early in the morning of March 29, the classic motel sign at the corner of Fremont Street and Charleston Boulevard—a 16-foot-tall blonde in a blue evening gown with tiny white wings and a battered halo, designed by Betty Willis, creator of the iconic "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign—was removed from its perch by the City of Las Vegas and YESCO for refurbishment and restoration. The Angel is a kind of an unofficial patron saint to Downtown; local artists have painted her, photographed her, even fashioned her into a Christmas tree ornament. And for many locals, knowing that the 1950s-era sign is no longer in danger of being sold, stolen or vandalized is a profound relief.

The Blue Angel Restoration

"We're sensitive to preserving our history," says City of Las Vegas spokesman Jace Radke, noting that the Angel has sat out in the elements, virtually untouched, for the entirety of her 61 years. He says that YESCO plans to store the Angel at its facility while it's restored, then to return it to the City, which plans to reinstall the piece on a triangle-shaped traffic median at the corner of Charleston and Fremont, near to the Angel's original location. Once there, it can "continue to welcome people to Downtown," says Ward 3 councilman Bob Coffin. The median doubles as a bus stop, so presumably, you'll be able to walk up and take selfies with the restored Angel looking over your shoulder.

No firm timeline has been set for the Blue Angel's return. (It was only taken down now in anticipation of high winds that might have made a safe removal impossible.) Funding for the restoration project is coming from the Las Vegas Centennial Commission, a historic preservation-focused entity that was created in 2005 through the sale of a special license plate that features the "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign. In a remarkable turn of events, one of Betty Willis' signs is rescuing the other.

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