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The Colorful History of the Pink Elephant Car Wash Sign

The pink elephant neon sign has been glowing brightly in our desert for decades and has become an unofficial local landmark.

“I think the sign is recognizable to anybody and everybody in the whole Coachella Valley,” said Randy Barnes who operates the rancho super car wash with his wife Lorainne.

The Barnes say this sign’s history starts in 1956 in Seattle, Washington when Beatrice Haverfield, known as the queen of neon, created the first pink elephant sign.

In the mid 60s, the Fromme family moved the sign to the city of Rancho Mirage and installed it at the intersection of Indian Trail and Highway 111.

Over the years, this pink elephant with a spraying trunk has grabbed attention from senior citizens to social media influencers.

“A lot of the kids, young people, come by, take pictures and then they post them on Instagram and Facebook,” Lorraine Barnes said. “It’s become a really big thing.”

But after years of dealing with harsh desert weather, this iconic sign has lost some of its luster.

Looking to change that, community leaders recently came together to return this old sign back to its former glory.

The pink elephant car wash sign is something we feel should be around forever,” said Dan Allen with Preservation Mirage, a local group that celebrates the architectural history of Rancho Mirage.

Preservation Mirage helped raise funds for the restoration of this historic sign.

“Our founder, Melissa Riche, a year-and-a-half ago came up with the idea to have the pink elephant car wash sign historically designated to make sure that it stays around forever,” Allen said. “And we worked with the owners, the operators and the city to make that happen.”


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