Vegas Vic and the Pioneer Club Casino
From its creation in 1951, this neon sign based on the Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce's friendly mascot "Vegas Vic" became one of the symbols of Las Vegas. The sign stood outside the Pioneer Club casino and was innovative for its time owing to its size and moving arm and cigarette. The sign even offered a friendly greeting every fifteen minutes by exclaiming “Howdy Podner!” to tourists and gamblers along Fremont Street. The Pioneer Club is no longer a casino, but the Vegas Vic sign is still located in the same place as it was in 1951.
Backstory and Context
The Las Vegas Chamber of Commerce hired a firm in 1947 to market the city in hopes of attracting more visitors and businesses. The company created the concept of Vegas Vic, as well as his “Howdy Podner” greeting, and first made it into a postcard. Vegas Vic’s character quickly became popular, though, and as a result, the owners of the Pioneer Club hired Young Electric Sign Company to create a neon sign version of Vegas Vic for the casino. As the city was moving towards the new, flashy neon design, the Pioneer Club casino opted to move away from its current sign, which merely sported a horse and the words “Pioneer Club.”
Vegas Vic was completed in 1951, sporting moving arms, a moving cigarette, and a voice box that would blare out his “Howdy Podner!” greeting every fifteen minutes. The sign was massively popular, and became an iconic piece of the Las Vegas experience. However, in 1966, Vegas Vic’s greeting was silenced because director Lee Marvin, who was filming The Professionals at the time, complained that the greeting was far too loud. Vic remained silent for years, but was given its voice back in the 1980s. Vic remained well-maintained until The Pioneer Club closed down in 1995, and Vegas Vic quickly fell into disrepair. However, the Neon Museum at the Fremont Street Experience opted to restore the sign as long as the current owner of the sign and building, Schiff Enterprises, would pay for the electricity required to keep it going. Since then, the sign has been maintained and continues to be a Las Vegas icon.