The iconic ‘Wendover Will’ is getting a facelift

WEST WENDOVER, Nevada — At 71 years old, Wendover Will needed a little facelift.

“We don’t want to change him that much. I mean, he’s iconic the way he is,” said West Wendover Mayor Jasie Holm. “The paint, and he’s 71 years old. Everything needs a little updating.”

The 68-foot tall statue, which used to greet gamblers at the Utah-Nevada border, is famous. It was one of the first Nevada signs the Young Electric Sign Company (YESCO) created back in the 1950s with his neon wink and moving cigarette.

“You have Vegas Vic, Vegas Vickie, you have the Showgirls and you have Wendover Will. These are all very iconic signs to drive business into Las Vegas and Wendover, obviously. You can’t miss them,” said Crissy Long, the general manager of YESCO Rocky Mountain West.

In 2005, after the State Line Casino changed designs, Wendover Will was given to the City of West Wendover and the iconic neon sign moved to the western edge of town. Tens of thousands of people still visit it, snapping pictures with the smiling cowboy in their backgrounds. But as a statue, it was always tricky for YESCO to maintain.

“Neon is just very expensive to maintain,” said Long. “It’s very finicky. Any rain storm, snow storm, wind storm, neon goes out. The lighting goes out.”

West Wendover would spend as much as $25,000 a year to keep Wendover Will maintained. But this year, the city decided to make some changes. He got a new paint job to freshen him up and new lighting.

“We are switching it from neon to LED. We’ve fixed the stucco and paint. So it’s going to be way more effective for maintenance and brighter. It’s going to look nicer,” Mayor Holm said.

The city will spend about $175,000 for the upgrades to Wendover Will. On Monday, crews were out replacing neon with the energy-efficient LED strips. They are expected to last years longer than neon tubes. YESCO said it was also using a type of LED lighting that will mimic the classic neon look.

“Most LEDs we’re used to have that harsh, very bright, in-your-face lighting,” Long said. “The new technology is made with more of a soft glow like neon to mimic that feel that you get from it. It does look very nice.”

When the project is done in a couple of weeks, Wendover Will is going to be beckoning visitors to a new part of West Wendover: the city’s first-ever downtown development. Ground will be broken on the development, which will feature a mix of housing and non-gaming commercial development.

“It’s going to be anywhere from 40 to 60 lots, it’s residential and commercial that we need so bad,” Mayor Holm said. “We have so many businesses that tried to come here. We don’t have the infrastructure and now we do.”

Read the full article written by Ben Winslow at