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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.

About the Author

Sandra moved from the small border city of Yuma, Arizona to study Broadcast Journalism at Arizona State University in the late 90s. Since graduating, she's worked at several local TV stations including Univision, Fox 10 and 3TV.

Working at KTAR, has allowed her the opportunity to cover major national news events, including Presidential visits, the Tucson Tragedy and the Wallow fire.

When Sandra isn't covering breaking news or behind a microphone in the studio, she's probably at home with her best friend Mark and her two dogs, Lily and Lola.

Sandra enjoys cooking and admits to enjoying "really bad" reality T.V. She also enjoys spending quiet time at home with people she loves, playing a little poker and traveling.


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