A new chapter begins in the history of the Tropics sign

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[June 28, 2017]  LINCOLN -  On Tuesday morning a new chapter began in the history of the Tropics sign. The sign was loaded onto a trailer and trucked to Springfield where the restoration work will be done by Ace Sign Company.

The sign for the last couple of years has been in storage at the Lincoln Landscape Waste Facility. The vacated Tropics Restaurant was sold in early 2014, the sellers, the Goodrich family, wanted the sign to be preserved and gifted it to the city of Lincoln and the Logan County Tourism Bureau. The deal was that the city would be responsible for the maintenance and care of the sign, but it would belong to the tourism bureau, if it was properly restored and placed on exhibit somewhere within the city. If that criteria could not be met, the ownership of the sign would revert back to the Goodrich’s.

Soon after an agreement was established, Ace Sign Co in Springfield was contracted by the city to remove the sign from its location on Hickox Drive near the intersection of Woodlawn Road and Lincoln Parkway. The city made arrangement for a trailer to move the sign, and it was taken to the city street department facility where it remained for a short time.

This week, as he waited for Ace to arrive at the landfill, City Street Superintendent Walt Landers talked about the condition the sign is currently in. Once the sign was taken to the city street department, some of the skin had to be removed from the sign to expose the interior and clean it.

When the sign was being taken down, many people watching noted the number of pigeons flying out of the sign. Landers said that even though many had left during that process, even when the sign was parked at the street department, pigeons continued to exit the sign and return. When the sign was examined, it was found to be almost filled with pigeon nests and pigeon waste.

Landers showed pictures of the sign once the back side was removed, and explained that in that condition, the sign posed a health hazard. The sign was cleaned up, then brought to the landscape waste facility. The largest portion of the sign that was still intact was laid in an elevated position on the ground and completely covered with tarps to protect it from the weather and standing water from rain and snow.

On Tuesday, before the sign company arrived, Landers removed the covering so that the sign company could move in and do their part.

When the company arrived with its boom truck, the crew set to work right away to get the sign secured for lifting into the air and onto the back of a trailer. It took a little more than an hour to get the sign on the trailer and secured for transport. The other piece of the sign that had been removed would also be loaded up and taken to Springfield.

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A small group gathered to watch the process including Bob and Tami Goodrich and Bill Thomas who are members of the restoration committee, Cris Wibben and Morgan Gleason of the Logan County Tourism Bureau, Lincoln Alderman Rick Hoefle, local media, and a staff member from Ace who was filming the event using a drone.

The restoration project will take about six months, with expectations that the sign could be finished by the end of the year. When the sign returns to Lincoln, it will be placed near its original location, in the parking lot of the new McDonald’s Restaurant being built in the old Tropics location.

The Tropics Legacy Campaign is the official fundraising group for the sign and part of the restoration committee. On Tuesday, Thomas handed out information regarding the legacy campaign. To date, the committee has “in hand” approximately $47,000. There are still grant applications outstanding and the committee is hopeful that those grants will be awarded later this summer or fall.

In the meantime, the campaign is still gratefully accepting donations from the community. Anyone wishing to support this project may do so by mailing a check to the Tropics Legacy Campaign in care of the Logan County Tourism Bureau, at 1555 Fifth Street, Lincoln, IL 62656. Checks should be made out to the Tropics Legacy Campaign.

Donations may also be made online to the campaign’s Go-Fund-Me account – www.gofundme.com/tropics-legacy-campaign.

There will also be a fundraiser held at the new McDonalds on August 24th to benefit the sign. On that day a percentage of the receipts for the day will be donated directly to the campaign.

Thomas also offered up a timeline to completion of the project. The sign should be finished by the end of the year. It is expected that the sign will be installed sometime in the first quarter of 2018. No exact date can be set at this time due to unknown weather conditions. Soon after the sign is official installed, the committee will hold a “Grand Re-lighting Ceremony.” At that time the sign will be official unveiled to the public and lit for all to see.

In all, the committee has a budget at around $70,000 for the restoration of the sign; installing of the sign’ design, production and installation of the interpretive panel that will tell the story of the sign, and recognize donors; and the final landscaping around the sign.

[Nila Smith]


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