A woman hurries to the center of the road at Pacific Boulevard and Windward Avenue. She points up at the Venice Sign with one hand, in the other she holds her smart phone ready for a selfie. Cars stop in all directions as pedestrians make their way across the intersection. The scrambled crosswalk provides the perfect photo opportunity.
Adriano Sosa, visiting Venice for the first time from New York, said getting a picture in front of the sign was a must.
Staying with friends in Venice on a trip down from San Francisco, Kazune couldn’t resist a shot either.
The Venice Sign is an iconic part of the beachside community, first lit by Abbot Kinney on July 4th, 1905. The guess is that the original Venice sign came down sometime around 1947, when the Venice Pier at the end of Windward Ave. closed.
In 2004, after local resident Todd von Hoffmann helped secure a $10,000 beautification grant from the City of Los Angeles, the Venice Sign Restoration Project began and by 2007 the sign shone bright once again above Venice Beach.
Visitors are welcome to get snap happy, however, the sign is a registered trademark of the Venice Chamber of Commerce and as such, anyone wanting to publish images of the sign for anything other than personal use must get permission through the Chamber’s website. Money raised this way helps keep the sign shining.
“Thanks to the trademark, the license fees provides our non-profit organization with the means to raise the funds to take care of the sign,” said Venice Chamber of Commerce Executive Director Donna Lasman.
Another way the Chamber helps pay to keep the sign lit is through its Adopt-a-Bulb program.
“Concerning the expenses, we do maintenance checks each time we change out the bulbs for an event, generally about four times a year. The estimated cost for one maintenance check, which includes the lift, labor, and bulbs is about $800,” Lasman explained.
The Chamber also hopes to build up a reserve of funds for when the sign requires more significant repairs. “So far we have not had to do any major repairs. The sign is secure where it is anchored to the buildings and the cables are in great condition,” Lasman said.
All up, 87 bulbs comprise the Venice Sign. Anyone can adopt-a-bulb for $200 a year and applications can be filled out online. “We are grateful to the community for their contributions and also for their sup- port in helping us protect the trademark,” Lasman added.
The Venice Chamber of Commerce’s annual sign-lighting extravaganza has become a much-loved Venice Beach tradition with local celebrities like Robert Downey Jr. and Pink flipping the switch, changing the lights from it’s Thanksgiving orange and white to Red and Green for the holiday season.
The sign is green every year for St Patrick’s day, which Chamber Vice President and longtime Venice resident George Francisco says is his favorite hue. “I grew up South Side, Chicago, so I always love seeing it that color,” he said.
Francisco said there he thinks are many more opportunities for celebrating different community events by changing the bulbs, “I’d love to see it red on Valentine’s Day,” he suggested, adding that it would be fun to see more members of the community step up and “see us celebrate it in different ways.”
While not all of us are able to find the cash to light the entire sign in our favorite colors, adopting a single bulb might be a bright idea for present, or simply a way to claim your small part of Venice Beach. Kazune from San Francisco thinks it’s a pretty “cool” idea.
To adopt your bulb jump online VeniceChamber.net