Almost back: Vegas Vic nearly fully-lit in downtown Las Vegas

Published: May. 22, 2023 at 11:19 PM PDT
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LAS VEGAS, Nev. (FOX5) - An icon of Las Vegas’ glory days has almost been fully-restored.

If you’ve been on Fremont Street lately, you may have noticed Vegas Vic has been slowly lit back up. This follows a notice by the City of Las Vegas that the owners of the iconic sign, Schiff Enterprises, were in violation of city code by keeping him turned off.

Before Vic can be restored to his full glory, however, each of his glass neon tubes need to be replaced.

John McLaughlin works at the Young Electric Sign Company, which operates a sign repair plant near Tropicana and Decatur. That plant is where Vic’s facelift is currently happening.

“I think it’s important that somebody who’s local and understands the history of the sign is also a part of getting it repaired and keeping it right,” McLaughlin said about himself and the other workers at the plant. “I am a local Las Vegas resident. I’ve been here my whole life, so it’s actually important to me that I get to be a part of something that is as historical as that.”

McLaughlin likes the fact that as most signs around the country are being switched to LED lighting, Las Vegas is sticking with its neon roots.

“I think it makes the city unique in its own way,” he said.

Even though most of Vic’s lights are on now, McLaughlin tells FOX5 each one of those tubes need to come in for repair.

“We are actually working on a complete refurbishment,” he explained. “Right now, we wanted to get it bright and up and running, but we are working with the ownership group to try to redo the whole sign and try to keep it burning for longer so we’re not in a constant state of maintenance.”

This is not the first time YESCO has worked on Vegas Vic. He’s been in for repair several times before, which has given the people working on him the necessary specs and information for Vic’s intricate glass tubing.

Like McLaughlin, neon specialist Oscar Gonzalez takes great pride in his job, telling FOX5 how his oldest kid recognizes his old man’s handiwork.

“He’s telling the young ones, ‘Do you know dad made that sign? Did you know dad made that neon sign?’ And that’s when I feel really proud,” Gonzalez said.

It’s particularly poignant for these YESCO employees to restore one of the oldest and most enduring symbols of Las Vegas’ olden days.

“They usually come down and they go to the boneyard,” McLaughlin said about most old neon signs he sees. “So the fact that Vegas Vic in particular is still up is amazing.”

Vegas Vic has been in downtown Las Vegas since 1951. He stands 40 feet tall and is considered the world’s largest mechanical neon sign.