20th Anniversary of the Boulevard Sign

SAN DIEGO, CA, February 11, 2009 - Drive-in restaurants, malt shops and drag races are images from the good old days of El Cajon Boulevard, but one of the most visual elements of that era was the spectacular display of neon signs. It wasn't Las Vegas, but for San Diego, an evening drive down the bright and colorful Boulevard is a fond memory for those who were in San Diego during the 1940s through the 1960s.

To fill the void of lost neon signage, the spectacular Boulevard gateway sign was erected in 1989 to return to the glory of neon. City officials and local business leaders saw the sign as a major new landmark which would promote the Boulevard as a destination and encourage further community revitalization efforts.

March 2009 marked the 20th Anniversary of The Boulevard gateway sign, which is located near the intersection of Park and El Cajon Boulevard. Just as planned, this monumental occasion has come to represent 20 years of progress and revitalization. With the establishment of the El Cajon Boulevard Business Improvement Association, the last 20 years has seen the area's reemergence as a retail, and more recently, residential destination. Since the installation of the sign, the Association has installed 165 ornamental streetlights, landscaped miles of medians, repaired sidewalks, and planted hundreds of trees.

To recognize its 20th Anniversary, the Association had the Boulevard sign freshly painted, and repainted the165 ornamental streets lights that line El Cajon Boulevard from Park Boulevard to 54th Street in the district's signature teal color. The Association is also worked with graphic design students at SDSU to develop a banner design to promote the sign's anniverary. The Association is hosted a small gathering on Friday, March 20, to recognize some of people who have played a vital role in revitilizing El Cajon Boulevard. Major Jerry Sanders, Councilmembers Todd Gloria and Marti Emerald, State Preservation Architect Wayne Donaldson and other important guests were on hand at the event to share their favorite memories of El Cajon Boulevard. A few snapshots from the event are below.

Guests enjoying themselves in the Lusti Motors showroom

Councilmember Todd Gloria walking off with a memento of the 20th Anniversary Celebration
Mayor Jerry Sanders
Don Davis
Boulevard BIA board member Polly Gillette
The fabulous Tootie from Lips, the MC for the evening
Jackie O'Connor, president of the El Cajon Boulevard BIA, alongside Senator Kehoe with a proclamation recognizing the 20th anniversary of the iconic Boulevard sign

Board member Jen Henry welcoming guests

Gary and Nancy Rose-Weber displaying joy for the Boulevard sign

Antique Car Show hosted by San Diego Cougar Club. It was located at the San Diego Unified School District parking lot across the street from the Boulevard sign
The Lusti brothers in front of their showroom

Rob Stepke, chair of the North Park Planning Committee with University Heights CDC reps Mary Wendorf (left) and Ernie Bonn (right)

Normal Heights Planning Committee Chair Jim Baross riding to the event
Olivia Brant, Boulevard BIA board president Jackie O'Connor and Ron Lacey, Community Outreach from Mayor Jerry Sander's office
Boulevard BIA board member Su Nguyen (far left) with Little Saigon Foundation members

Rick Carlson, with the San Diego Police Historical Association and Councilmember Marti Emerald stand proudly together in front of the Boulevard sign
Boulevard BIA Marketing Manager and event organizer Beryl Forman
Normal Heights artist Pete Everisto enjoys the spread of food from El Cajon Boulevard restaurants
The J.A. Cooley Museum, the site of the cocktail party
Jim and Carmen Cooley chatting with the Lustis from Lusti Motors
Jeff Marston, assistant to former Councilmember Gloria McColl, and sign designer Simon Andrews from Graphic Solutions

A rendering of the Boulevard sign by Graphic Solutions
Angela Carone (KPBS culturelust) graciously allowed the El Cajon Boulevard BIA to use her photo to promote the event.