From the 1950s through the mid-90s, Orlando knew the holiday season was upon us because of a 12-foot neon sign that announced, “HAPPY HOLIDAYS” and “HAPPY NEW YEAR” from atop the historic Orlando Utilities Commission building on Lake Ivanhoe.
Nobody seems to know why, but sometime during the 90s, the sign stopped being lit, but still sits on top of the building. Interested parties from City of Orlando, Ivanhoe Village Main Street, Orlando Utilities Commission, and Ivanhoe Foundation began to work together to resurrect this iconic piece of Orlando history.
After testing, it was determined the restoration effort would cost approximately $50,000 with the work being sourced locally through McCree General Contractors & Architects. Commission Robert Stuart (District 3) and Mayor Buddy Dyer developed a plan to raise to restore this part of Orlando history. Simply put, each of the other Orlando City Commissioners agreed to fund $5,000 from their Capital Improvement Fund that was matched with a gift of $25,000 from the Stuart’s District 3 Fund. The agreement was contingent upon one caveat; Ivanhoe Village Main Street must raise the funds to use ongoing maintenance, operation and other expenses related to the sign. Our goal is $10,000 over the next two years, starting with this initial campaign of $5000. This wise stipulation will make certain the sign is never neglected again.
“It reminded me of community,” said Anda Lucia Ariail when asked to share a memory of the sign. “It has a very hometown feeling. The sign made me feel good about the season and my community.”
“I loved not only the first sighting of the year but every sighting as we drove down I-4. I loved it as a kid trying to be the first to spot it; loved it as an adult in the comfort and joy and the way something traditional makes you feel,” said Cindy Paton, answering a survey conducted by Ivanhoe Village Main Street in September of this year.
If all goes well, the holiday sign will be lit once again this year for Jingle Eve, a holiday celebration that occurs throughout all of Ivanhoe Village the weekend before Thanksgiving. But it will take our community coming together to raise the money for this fund to make that happen.
Please consider making a contribution to The Ivanhoe Holiday Sign Fund to ensure that this piece of Orlando history continues for generations to come to enjoy!
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