Scott Reeves with Cook & Company Signmakers works on "raceways" for the fluorescent lighting in the restored conquistador-inspired sign at El Con Mall. The original sign, installed in December 1962, was taken down in 1999. The public is invited to a 50th anniversary relighting at 5 p.m. Saturday.

The original 1962 El Con Mall sign, featuring a helmeted conquistador and his crossed swords, was reinstalled Thursday after a full renovation.

Tucsonans are invited to a 50th anniversary relighting ceremony Saturday.

"The sign was in remarkably good condition, considering it's been laying on the ground behind the mall since 2000," said renovator Jude Cook, owner of Cook & Company Signmakers. "It had minimal rust."

The sign was taken down in 1999 to make way for the Krispy Kreme building that's now occupied by Chick-fil-A.

Cook is an admirer of the sign's mid-century style and says its maker, Tucson's former Arizona Neon, pushed the envelope on how it used plastics that were new to the sign industry in the early 1960s.

Cook's crew used translucent vinyl to replace some colored acrylics that are no longer available, among other steps to prepare the sign for its anniversary. They also completely replaced the wiring.

The sign has been placed about 300 feet to the west of its original spot on Broadway. The bulk of it is 35 feet tall, but the top of a sword reaches 45 feet high, Cook says.

He estimates the mall will have spent close to $50,000 on the project when it's done, including the process of winning city approval, in October, to renovate and reinstall it as a designated "historic landmark sign."

That was only possible due to amendments the city approved for its sign code in the last few years.

"Under the previous code, we could never have put this sign back up," said Cook, who has also worked on recent renovations to such local landmark signs as the "Diving Girl" downtown and the Monterey Court on Miracle Mile.


• What: 50th anniversary relighting of the landmark sign.

• Where: El Con Mall, 3601 E. Broadway. The sign is on the Broadway side of the mall.

• When: 5 p.m. Saturday. The ceremony will be officiated by City Councilman Steve Kozachik, and the Tucson Arizona Boys and Tucson Girls choruses will perform carols. Also, mall stores will offer hot chocolate and cookies for shoppers until 9 p.m.