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Arizona city wins $144K grant to build neon-sign park

(Twitter Photo/@APS_Rich)

PHOENIX — With a lot of help from new friends, history lovers in Casa Grande sent off some vintage signs this week to be restored for a planned neon park.

The Pinal County city earned a $144,000 grant late last year from the National Trust for Historic Preservation in an online contest. American Express and Main Street America also helped in the project — Partners in Preservation: Main Streets — which pulled together over $1 million to divide among 11 historic sites across the country.

Casa Grande finished second, behind Parker Hall and the John Trower Building in Philadelphia and ahead of the legendary Formosa Cafe in Los Angeles.

The largest city in the county south of Phoenix has a population estimated at about 54,000, according to the 2016 U.S. Census Bureau, and was the only Arizona city on the list.

The Vintage Neon Park was scheduled to open by late this year. It will unveil five signs, including one each from the Horseshoe Motel, Arizona Edison, a power company that eventually became Arizona Public Service, and a Dairy Queen sign from Holbrook, the Casa Grande Dispatch reported.

“This is a big win for Casa Grande,” Rina Rien, director of Casa Grande Main Street, the nonprofit dedicated to preserving the city’s downtown history.

The park will be established at Arizona Plaza, near Florence and Second streets.

Before the voting, which ran in October, Mayor Craig McFarland said in a statement, “We may be the underdog compared to other larger competing cities, but I have complete confidence in the dedication and power of our residents to vote early, vote often, and help us create this unique space.”

Cincinnati, Ohio and Salt Lake City, Utah also earned part of the prize money.

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