Anchorage residents have banded together to purchase a neon-lit palm tree sign from the federal government.
The 22-foot (7-meter) “tree” was previously located at the Paradise Inn and was a landmark of the Spenard neighborhood, the Anchorage Daily News reported .
Federal authorities seized the motel and sign last year following a criminal drug case against the owner. It was later put up for auction.
Jay Stange, a teacher and community activist, headed the effort to buy it on behalf of Spenard boosters. Through an online fundraiser, $2,700 was raised for the purchase, Stange said. About 59 people contributed, each giving between $5 and $200.
Stange was notified Monday that they had won the auction.
“It’s sitting under a tarp in a lot in south Anchorage right now,” Stange said. “We’re going to repatriate it.”
The group is planning a public art installation, but no decision has been made on where it will be placed, Stange said.
The “tree” was a staple of the motel, which was built 1962. Over the decades, the motel became a blight in the community. The sign has since come to symbolize the neighborhood’s underdog spirit, Stange said.
“Spenard is the ‘Bad News Bears’ of Anchorage,” he said. “We’re constantly not invited to eat at the adult table.”
The tree sign may come to symbolize the neighborhood’s renaissance, he said.
“As goes this palm tree, so goes our neighborhood,” Stange said.