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A very Vegas proposal lights up Neon Museum event

Todd VonBastiaans is married to his sign project campaign, engaged to his partner and excited about slippers.

The Vegas lighting professional, philanthropist and historian has brought the Lido De Paris sign back to life. His sponsorship of the piece led to Thursday night’s ceremonial relighting at the Neon Boneyard, where the sign is now displayed.

VonBastiaans threw more shine on the evening even before the Lido sign was lit anew. During an invitation-only party at the Boneyard prior to the formal re-lighting, VonBastiaans proposed to his partner, Bryan McCarthy, in front of the Silver Slipper sign.

VonBastiaans led McCarthy to the long-decommissioned Las Vegas Strip hotel-casino visage, which stands about 20 feet from the new Lido sign.

VonBastiaans is essentially giving the Silver Slipper piece to McCarthy, and the community at large.

“It’s for Bryan, for us, and for everybody,” VonBastiaans said during the evening’s celebration as the sun set at Neon Musuem

VonBastiaans says he’s long intended to bring the slippers back back to life, but earlier than the Lido effort. The initial idea was to restore a smaller piece of the sign, showing the now-worn slippers. Then he would move to larger projects.

“The slippers were the original plan, to go with something small,” VonBastiaans said. “But you know what happens in Vegas. We went with the Lido, which is amazing, and now the Silver Slipper.”

VonBastiaans and McCarthy were huge supporters of the original ruby slippers from “The Wizard of Oz,” being turned over to the Smithsonian. The couple shares a fascination with that iconic wardrobe item, and also the Silver Slipper sign from one of Howard Hughes’ hotel-casinos on the Strip.

“The educational background for that sign would be all of the original performers at the Silver Slipper and the LGBTQ community, plus all of that culture in Las Vegas,” VonBastiaans said. “I’m excited because that’s something that’s also ‘us,’ you know? Like, an ‘I get you,’ kind of message.”

At 56 feet in length, the Lido sign was displayed along a billboard in front of the Stardust.

Las Vegas Mayor Carolyn Goodman; Neon Museum Executive Director Aaron Berger; Las Vegas City Councilman Cedric Crear; Samantha Sage, one of the first female crew members on the “Lido” show; Lynette Chappel, the Evil Queen in Siegfried & Roy’s production; and restorer Jesse Hartlauer of Hartlauer Signs were all on hand.

“Lido” ran from 1958-91, performing more than 22,000 shows for more than 19 million guests. Chappel, donned in a pink fur, took a look around the celebrants and said, “So many memories. This is a perfect night.”

John Katsilometes’ column runs daily in the A section. His “PodKats!” podcast can be found at reviewjournal.com/podcasts. Contact him at jkatsilometes@reviewjournal.com. Follow @johnnykats on Twitter, @JohnnyKats1 on Instagram.

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