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Blue Angel Motel sign exhibit brings back childhood memories for locals

Posted at 10:21 PM, May 24, 2018
and last updated 2018-05-28 18:07:40-04

It's your chance to a see a Las Vegas icon, but this one doesn't dance sing or perform tricks. Instead it's her special place in Las Vegas history that has people excited about the opportunity to get an up close look at her. 

It's called "Blue Angel: Between Heaven and Earth." The limited exhibition of the Blue Angel Motel sign is presented by the Neon Museum. It was organized in collaboration with the Desert Space Foundation with support from the City of Las Vegas Mayor's Office, as well as the City of Las Vegas Centennial Committee, which will fund the Blue Angel's restoration.

For a lot of locals the Blue Angel is a reminder of much simpler times. Laci Urcioli has called Las Vegas home since she was a small child.

"I walked in and the minute I laid eyes on her I said to my kid 'oh my god I feel like I'm 6, 7, 8 years old again'."

Just one look at the Blue Angel and the memories come flooding back.

"As a kid growing up in Vegas, you know there's lights and sounds and neon," said Urcioli  "You know it's not a typical childhood, especially back in the 80s and 90s."

For a lot of people she was a celestial beacon in the sky -- a refreshing symbol of innocence in a place known as Sin City. 

I used to say a little prayer to her,' Urcioli said. "I used to think that she was watching over the city."

She hovered about the Blue Angel Motel starting in 1957 until she was removed for restoration in 2017.

Cynthia Behr Warso is the director of education at the Neon Museum.

"She stood there for a very long time out on Fremont Street and the community has always had an interest in her."

She designed by Betty Willis who also created the Welcome to Fabulous Las Vegas sign. The Blue Angel is on display at the Neon Museum's Ne10 Studio.

Nancy Good's infrared photos of the Blue Angel are a part of the exhibit. 

"Her rising up even as beat up and even as weathered as she is she continues to give hope," said Good. "That no matter what we face in our own lives there will be restoration. There will be a survivorship, so to speak."

Urcioli admits as a local she can be a bit nostalgic and hesitant to embrace changes to the city.

"So this is beautiful to see her back now and on display," she said. "For my kids to be able enjoy and for everybody who may be new to Las Vegas to have a little bit of appreciation of where we came from." 

"Blue Angel: Between Heaven and Earth" will be on display through July 6.