What happened to the Swim-In-Pool neon sign?

Some folks might confuse this question to be about the sign for the Glass Pool Inn, a south-Strip motor hotel famous for its above-ground pool, and once known as the Mirage (until Steve Wynn made a cash offer the owners could not refuse). That particular pylon sign was unceremoniously stolen from the former Glass Pool site after being taken down last year. But the Swim-In-Pool sign was entirely different: a modest, animated calling card for the Martin-family owned Swim-In-Pool Supply Company, located at 1314 S. Main St. since 1962.

The sign—said to have been hand-built by a family member—featured three neon gals, each placed at various points along a neon slide (see Flikr.com/Photos/RoadsidePeek/6031136125). At night, the three gals would light in sequence, offering the illusion that one happy girl was sliding into a cool backyard pool. The sign was a familiar site on Main Street for decades and celebrated the desert-oasis lifestyle before a population explosion and subsequent water restrictions made such ideas politically incorrect.

In November 2009, Swim-In-Pool’s sliding-girl sign suffered an electrical fire and was extensively damaged. Repairs, which required the garage-made sign to meet current code, would have cost tens of thousands of dollars. The owners decided not to pursue it. Rumor has it that the damaged sign remains in the possession of the Martin family. One hopes it will someday end up at the Neon Museum, fully restored.

Was the Santa Claus at the Boulevard Mall in the 1970s real?

One thing is certain: He was more real than the animatronic reindeer and elves that the mall would set up each year in what was perhaps the most elaborate of local store Christmas displays to date. Back then, the Boulevard (built in 1968 and expanded and modernized in the late 1980s) resembled a promenade of “Main Street” retailers decades before the Forum Shops came along (see VegasSeven.com/BoulevardMall). It featured several fountains, a town square-type clock and street lamps. Santa set up his photo shop near the main fountain, an unusual, mid-century stylized flower-like structure located in the indoor courtyard fronting J.C. Penney. A trip to the Boulevard to marvel at the holiday display was a tradition for many families, and although the animated reindeer and elves have long gone, Santa remains. So, is he real? Well, I got my Evel Knievel Stunt Cycle, didn’t I?

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After a year on the sideline, Khem Birch is set to make his UNLV debut Monday at UTEP, and it's hard to say who the wait has been harder on — Birch himself, or the Rebels fans who have been anticipating this day ever since he transferred from Pitt. The 6-foot-9 center comes with high expectations. A former McDonald's All-American, Birch has elite shot-blocking ability and could transform the UNLV defense. And his arrival comes at an opportune time, as the Rebels frontcourt has been thinned by Mike Moser's elbow injury.