Ever since the wooden sign was installed in 1984 by the Ocean Beach Town Council, it’s been an epicurean delight for the termites.
Thirty years later, the party’s over for the insects, and a fresh, new look awaits passersby.
The new sign, unveiled June 18 in front of a small crowd of onlookers and community leaders, is an exact replica of the Samuel Wald design it replaced, with the familiar seagull, sky and sea.
And yes, just as it did in the old sign, the great big letter “O” still leans, like much of the community in Ocean Beach, to the left.
The only constituency unlikely to approve of the new sign are of the entomological six-legged variety. There’s nothing to munch on in the new sign, which consists of high-density foam — the same material used to make surfboards — and aluminum.
“This is OB’s sign. This is what signifies OB,” said District 2 Councilman Ed Harris. “And it’s not just a sign, it’s a landmark. It represents that you’ve come home.”
The unveiling capped a three-year effort to replace the sign, which had also been damaged by rot, ocean air and sun. The Town Council invited citizens to offer ideas on how to replace it, resulting in 20 proposed designs.
In an election last year, Town Council members decided none of the new designs could beat the original designed by Wald, a longtime community advocate and volunteer who died in 1989.
Funding for the sign came in the form of a $7,500 Neighborhood Reinvestment Program grant from District 4 San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts.
In the county’s latest budget, the program allows the five supervisors to allocate $2 million each to projects they deem worthy.
“They were well-spent dollars,” Roberts said. “The sign was falling apart. It was an endangered species.”
Jim Musgrove, the OBTC’s Community Enhancement chairman who spearheaded the effort, said citizens tried unsuccessfully to extend the life of the sign.
“We repaired it twice before with bondo and paint. And community members would come out here and touch it up, give it a face-lift. But it (degraded) beyond that,” Musgrove said.
One of those touch-up efforts included putting red paint on the “O” more than a decade ago. The new sign restores the capital letter to its original white color.
Painting the letter red “turned out to be not such a good idea because at night when the lights are on, the O disappeared,” Musgrove said.