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Piece of Kona Lanes to live on

June 24, 2003

Paul Clinton

An Ohio sign museum has given Kona Lanes a second life, agreeing to

preserve the bowling alley's distinctive Tiki-style sign as a part of

its collection.

The American Sign Museum, which is based in Cincinnati, Ohio, will

add the sign to its collection of more than 2,500 signs, photographs

and books chronicling a niche of the country's commercial history.

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The sign from the bowling alley, which closed May 18, was removed

via crane on Monday.

"We have a number of California signs from the 1950s," said Tod Swormstead, the museum's president. "It's our only sign that's of

that type of theme design."

On Monday morning, a crane commissioned by Anaheim-based Donco

Signs, removed the massive sign from its spot at the Mesa Verde

Shopping Center. The company plans to store the sign for several

weeks, until the museum can arrange for a truck to ship it to Ohio.

It will cost about $1,400 to transport it to the museum's

warehouse, Swormstead said. The museum, incorporated as a

not-for-profit group in 1999, is set to open in spring of 2004.

C.J. Segerstrom and Sons, who owns the center, donated the sign to

the museum. The company elected to remove the bowling alley to pave

the way for retail shops.

"We knew that there was a community interest in preserving the

sign because of its architectural and nostalgic appeal," company

spokesman Paul Freeman said in a statement. "Even though

circumstances made it impossible to leave Kona Lanes Bowl intact, we

are happy that the sign will be adopted by an agency with the

resources to preserve and care for it."

The Segerstroms and Mesa Verde Partners jointly own the center

where Kona Lanes opened in 1958. Since that time, as the popularity

of bowling faded, crowds at the alley grew more and more sparse. The

alley has been demolished.

Planning Commissioner Katrina Foley led the effort to preserve the

sign, which is pictured in the "Book of Tiki" as an example of a

Polynesian fad following World War II.

"Fortunately Tod was able to make it happen," Foley said about

Swormstead's acceptance of the sign. "I was really worried [that it

would be lost]."

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