Excitement builds for relighting of Kansas City’s iconic Western Auto sign

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- An iconic sign over downtown Kansas City will soon be lit up for the first time in years.

It's been at least two years since the Western Auto sign has been illuminated and about 15 years since it was fully functional.

The 73-foot Western Auto sign, wrapped in a 150 foot arrow, is admired by many. There are "Get lit" t-shirts and even viewing parties around the city as people anxiously wait to see the big, beautiful sign glow once again.

"I think it's wonderful we have something this iconic in our city," said Leanna Holdgraf, co-owner of Serendipity.

Holdgraf and her husband have called Kansas City home for 30  years. They remember when the Western Auto sign would shine brightly in the skyline and have missed it since the lights were shut off a few years back.

"It's just a fabulous building. The shape of it, the sign, it's marvelous," Holdgraf said.

To commemorate the relighting, happening Friday the 13th, their shop in the West Bottoms has been selling "Get lit KC" shirts.

"It's just exciting and wonderful to have. It's just a great sign for a great city," she said.

Eric Nielsen got an up-close view during one of the last times the sign glowed when the building marked its 100th birthday.

"Even though it was missing bulbs and bulbs were burnt out, it was still as stunning as ever," Nielsen said.

His dad worked in the building in the late 1970s, helping set up a new phone system, and he has fond memories of exploring the building, which is now on the National Register of Historic Places.

"As a kid, I didn't know how I felt about it. To be honest, I thought it was kind of an eyesore! But then as I got older, I just learned to appreciate the beauty of it, the nostalgia of it. It really is an iconic part of the skyline," he said.

Nielsen plans to record the relighting Friday night and, in the near future, bring his dad downtown to get a glimpse of the sign, which will now shine with modern LED lights.

"It'll be like seeing a friend or relative you haven't seen in years. I think once it's lit, it'll seem like it was never out," Nielsen said.

Homeowners at Western Auto Lofts are all chipping in to get the lights back on and keep them glowing for years to come.

The sign will officially light up at 8:45 p.m. Friday. If you can't make it downtown to see it in person, you can find a live stream of the lighting on fox4kc.com and on FOX4's Facebook page.

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