Historic neon sign park to be built in Casa Grande

It is something Casa Grande has always wanted: a park to display historic neon signs.

Las Vegas has something similar, and the city's Neon Museum, along with its boneyard, is now a huge tourist draw.

For Casa Grande, however, the city didn't quite have the funds to build it. That changed after online voters helped them win a major grant to complete the project. The city managed to beat out some stiff competition, including from Los Angeles and Portland, Oregon.

"These are authentic historic signs that have been a part of our community, but they were laying in storage until we had the funds to be able to restore them, and bring them back out into the public," said Rina Rein, the Executive Director of Casa Grande Main Street.

Rein said plans to make a neon sign park has always been there, while the funding was not.

"We had anticipated that it would take 10 years," said Rein.

That changed when they entered a competition for a grant from American Express and other corporations for money to benefit a main street project. Casa Grande came in second, winning them $144,000 to complete the park.

"You know it's nostalgic, and it's the rage across the country," said Marge Jantz with the Historic Preservation Commission. She has helped collect some of the ten historic neon signs that will be rebuilt and displayed. The hope is this project will be the shot in the arm Casa Grande needs.

"I think this could be that catalyst that could spark more activity for downtown," said Casa Grande's mayor, Craig McFarland.

There is hope for the project to begin construction by this summer, and have the entire park completed by the end of the year.