A vintage neon sign — plus architectural neon — of the historic Luna Cafe on Route 66 in Mitchell, Ill., were relighted Saturday night during a ceremony attended by about 200 people.
Jim Thole of the Route 66 Association of Missouri’s Neon Preservation Committee reported that the neon was turned on at 6:44 p.m. Saturday, with the temperature at a mild (and delightfully coincidental) 66 degrees. Thole said in a news release:
The seven-color neon sign, with an arrow in clear chaser bulbs also, had been dark for almost 20 years, until a cost-share grant from the Route 66 Corridor Preservation Program assisted owner Larry Wofford with the restoration of this internationally known sign.
But that’s not all! The crowd of onlookers was treated to a second relighting surprise as well. The famous “Man-in-the-Moon” and the Luna sign on the front of the building facade were also restored and relit, as well as the facade outline striping — creating a totally spectacular neon scene across the whole front of the property — a sparkling new piece of “eye candy” to behold. (This part was done without any program assistance.)
Here are close-up photos of the Luna Cafe’s main neon sign and its neon-festooned facade:
The ruby-red neon cherries on the main sign are the originals, Thole said. Many decades ago, the cherries reputedly were turned on when prostitutes on the restaurant’s second floor were “working.”
The Luna Cafe now holds a more sedate existence as a blue-collar bar.
Music and food were offered at the ceremony, along with this commemorative T-shirt:
The neon restoration project was led by a partnership with the Neon Heritage Preservation Committee of the Route 66 Association of Missouri, Route 66 Association of Illinois, and Friends of the Mother Road. Pictured below are officers from all three groups, with owner Larry Wofford in the middle:
UPDATE: Someone on another online forum has asked about buying the commemorative T-shirts. They are being sold only at Luna Cafe only in three colors: black, grey, and yellow.
UPDATE 10/27/2011: The Riverfront Times filed a story about the relighting and the Luna itself.
(Photos courtesy of Jim Thole)