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October 1, 2014

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Ask Mr. Sun: The Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign

Las Vegas Sign

Legendary Las Vegas neon sign designer Betty Willis, known for her world-famous "Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas" sign, talks about how she created her illustrious masterpiece and the significance of each of the sign's various symbols.

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Why does the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on Las Vegas Boulevard get all the attention when there is a second such sign on Boulder Highway? Are there, or were there, other similar signs around the city to welcome tourists?

Charlie Franco, Henderson

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Fame, the fickle mistress, usually favors those who get there first.

Such is the case with the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign on Las Vegas Boulevard. Since 1959, Betty Willis’ blinking diamond has welcomed visitors to the Strip and inspired legions of imitators. (Her design was never trademarked.)

You can count among them those behind the not-so-famous welcome sign on Boulder Highway, which came along in 2007. The casinos on the “Boulder Strip” united to get their own welcome sign, which stands in the highway’s median north of Tropicana Avenue.

But a 48-year head start and a spot on the Las Vegas Strip, instead of the Boulder Strip, had already clinched the spotlight for the original.

Another sign has, since 2002, stood at Fourth Street and Las Vegas Boulevard, welcoming visitors to “fabulous downtown Las Vegas.”

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