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Historic neon sign making return to Mesa

MESA, Ariz. — For about 50 years, she welcomed weary travelers, enticing them with a neon blue bathing suit.

The sign, known as the Diving Lady, had a job to do.

“To promote the fact that the Starlight Motel had a swimming pool, which was a luxury in that era,” said Vic Linoff with the Mesa Preservation Foundation.

She represented the eastern entrance to the Valley for half a century.

Built in 1960 by legendary neon sign-maker Paul Millet, the Diving Lady stood 80 feet tall and consisted of three animated figures that moved in sequence diving into blue water.

Unfortunately, Mother Nature got the best of the Diving Lady in October 2010 during a severe storm, when the sign was hit with a microburst. There was significant damage. Not just from the fall, but from 50 years of exposure to the elements.

After more than two years and significant monetary donations — about $120,000 — from the public, the Diving Lady will once again light up the Starlight Motel at 2710 E. Main where it stood for five decades.

“This is a big boost in heritage tourism, the sign is known throughout the nation and it brings people in. Every day, people will stop to photograph that sign,” said Linoff.

Mesa Mayor Scott Smith will flip the switch to the Diving Lady during a public event at the Starlight Motel on Tuesday evening. Parking for the free event, which will feature a barbeque, is at the Kmart at Lindsay and Main.