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This downtown Las Vegas icon in violation of city code

Updated April 27, 2023 - 7:27 am

The man has been smoking a cigarette for 75 years straight but now cannot find a light. And the complaints have grown loud enough for the city to step in.

The Vegas Vic sign, created by a New York agency in 1945 at the behest of the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce to promote the city, has been dark for months at its 25 E. Fremont St. location under the Fremont Street Experience.

“This sign is located in the Downtown Casino Overlay District. It must be fully illuminated from at least one hour before dusk until one hour after dawn,” city of Las Vegas spokesperson Jace Radke said.

But that has not been the case, triggering an inspection.

”We’ve received multiple comments about the Vegas Vic sign not being illuminated,” the city of Las Vegas said on Twitter. “Our Code Enforcement team responded and found the sign to be in violation of our municipal sign code. A correction notice was issued to the owner on April 24.”

Attempts to reach the sign’s owners were not immediately successful.

As the Las Vegas Review-Journal reported in a 2019 story celebrating a Nevada State Museum exhibit, Vegas Vic came to life in earnest in 1948, when the Pioneer Club on Fremont Street acquired the rights to The Smiling Cowboy.

The club then constructed what was, at the time, the largest neon sign in Nevada, shaped in the cowboy’s likeness and placed atop a building across the street from the property with a big arrow pointing toward the Pioneer Club — which has since been shuttered — to help drive traffic there.

Three years later, Vegas Vic would get both his name and some legs, becoming a full-length, 40-foot cowboy affixed to the outside of the casino, which is now a souvenir shop.

When the Fremont Street Experience was built in 1995, a few feet had to be shaved off the brim of Vic’s hat so that he would fit under the canopy.

Contact Tony Garcia at tgarcia@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0307. Follow @TonyGLVNews on Twitter.

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