First published in the Oct. 15 print issue of the Glendale News-Press.
The Museum of Neon Art has acquired a big piece of history from Knott’s Berry Farm.
The neon spectacular — defined as an oversized advertising display with neon or lamps in unusual animations — is a double-sided capital K with serifs and a sweeping curve. It is 20-feet tall with a base measuring 10 feet by 12 feet and was animated to fill with yellow neon row by row. The illuminated K logo was erected during America’s bicentennial in 1976 and sat high atop the Sky Tower and its Sky Jump parachute thrill ride.
The beacon was a landmark in Orange County and was aimed specifically toward drivers approaching Knott’s on the eastbound 91 freeway. The sign was inaugurated with the debut of the Roaring 20’s Airfield at Knott’s Berry Farm.
“This is a historic acquisition for the museum in terms of size as well as historical significance,” said MONA Executive Director Corrie Siegel. “The K joins our collection of mid-century Anaheim motel signs which once beckoned to Disneyland visitors. By entering this giant into our collection, we are preserving an iconic symbol of America’s first theme park and Southern California’s influential theme park industry.”
After the removal of the nearby Movieland Wax Museum neon spectacular (portions of which were saved by the Museum of Neon Art), Knott’s neon K is the last of the Orange County neon spectaculars. In honor of the park’s 100th anniversary, the iconic neon K was recently replaced with a replica, K-shaped LED screen, which displayed animated color and imagery.
This sign acquisition was arranged between Knott’s Berry Farm and MONA by Museum Board President Eric Lynxwiler, who has been an advocate for neon preservation, Los Angeles history and Knott’s Berry Farm history for more than three decades.
“My earliest memories of neon signs can be traced to the shops and attractions of Knott’s Roaring 20’s-themed landscape,” Lynxwiler said. “I only recognized in my adulthood that my interest in neon and the history of Knott’s Berry Farm combined in that one glowing era of my youth when a trip to Knott’s Berry Farm not only meant great food and roller coasters, but also magnificent neon signs.”