They say the neon lights are bright on Miracle Mile again.

And thanks to Monterey Court Studio Galleries, there is also music in the air.

The ongoing revitalization of the Mile from North Fairview Avenue to the North Oracle Road intersection will be celebrated Friday night at the sixth annual Historic Miracle Mile Open House and Tour .

The free event, a joint project between the Tucson Historic Preservation Foundation, Ward 3, the city and local businesses along North Oracle Road and West Miracle Mile, has seen significant crowds in recent years.

"There really remains so much enthusiasm for the area," said Demion Clinco, president of the preservation foundation. "It is exciting to see."

Several activities will take place at different locations throughout the evening, starting with lectures at the Ghost Ranch Lodge, a former motor court converted into low-income housing for seniors.

Clinco will discuss the historical significance of Miracle Mile, which was once part of the nationwide highway route U.S. 80 running from California to Florida.

More than 100 motels could be found in Tucson during the height of the corridor, including several along the Mile.

"It will give people context in which to understand Miracle Mile," he said. "It gives shape and understanding to how rich and interesting this part of the community is."

Carlos Lozano, founder of the group Vanishing Tucson, will speak about the development of neon signs within the Old Pueblo and across the country.

A guided tour of the lodge's historic cactus garden also will take place.

"It is a wonderful garden that the current owners have taken an active interest in protecting and enhancing," Clinco said.

One of the primary events of the evening will be the lighting of the recently redone neon sign at the Wayward Winds Lodge, currently home to the Gospel Rescue Mission.

A night tour of Evergreen Cemetery, will take participants to the grave sites of prominent Tucsonans, such as Sam Hughes.

At the same time, Monterey Court will be celebrating its one-year anniversary, with live music and entertainment from the local rock group Greyhound Soul and others.

Monterey co-owner Kelly McLear purchased the property with her partner, Greg Haver.

She said that this is the third year the facility, which houses a series of artsy shops and a café, will take part in the Miracle Mile tour.

People who have attended the last two years have witnessed the development of the property into what it is today.

"We were under construction the first time we participated," McLear said. "People wore their grubbies and learned about what we were going to be doing. You couldn't see what it was going to become at that point."

She said people who missed last year will be surprised at the development.

"It has changed quite a bit," she said. "It is almost unimaginable. It is exciting to be able to transform a space in that way."

Clinco, who has worked with the open house and tour since the beginning, said the event has always managed to find something new to celebrate, which serves as a testament to the level of development that has gone on along Miracle Mile.

"Every step has a tremendous amount of meaning," he said.

if you go

• What: Neon Mile: Sixth Annual Historic Miracle Mile Open House & Tour.

• When: 5:30-10:30 p.m. Friday.


5:30 p.m.

• Lecture: "U.S. 80 and Miracle Mile" by Demion Clinco at Ghost Ranch Lodge, 801 W. Miracle Mile.

• Guided tour of the Ghost Ranch Lodge historic cactus garden.


• Lecture: "Sign-O-Rama" by Carlos Lozano at Ghost Ranch.

• Cactus garden tour.


• Wayward Winds Lodge neon sign lighting, 707 W. Miracle Mile.


• Evergreen Cemetery tour starting at Monterey Court. Bring a flashlight.

• Where: Points along West Miracle Mile from North Fairview Avenue to the North Oracle Road intersection.

• Tickets: Free.


• Live music and entertainment at Monterey Court Studio Galleries, 505 W. Miracle Mile.

Contact reporter Gerald M. Gay at or 807-8430.