Many Bakersfield residents were shocked in 2013 when Green Frog Market's iconic "Howdy Folks" sign was acquired by the Museum of Neon Art in Glendale.

That won't be happening to the large Jolly Kone sign that has stood at the corner of Belle Terrace and Wible Road for more than 50 years.

It seems the smiling ice cream cone will remain in Bakersfield.

According to Kern County Museum Curator Lori Wear and museum Executive Director Mike McCoy, Wear has "landed the Jolly Kone sign" as a new addition to the museum's growing neon collection.

The City of Bakersfield acquired the Jolly Kone property through eminent domain as the city prepares to move forward with the Centennial Corridor project, a multimillion-dollar development designed to connect Highway 58 with the Westside Parkway.

"I didn't know the Jolly Kone was going to be demolished until last weekend," Wear told The Californian on Wednesday. "Mike McCoy and I became aware the sign was in danger of ending up in the landfill."

Wear said she reached out to city officials, who were happy to donate the sign to the museum.

The pole-mounted sign — which features a smiling soft-serve cone and a curved arrow inviting motorists to turn in — will need a complete restoration before it is installed at the museum. Local sign company Vital Signs of Bakersfield will handle the restoration and installation.

"The Kern County Museum approached the City of Bakersfield about acquiring the iconic Jolly Kone sign for Pioneer Village's Transportation Plaza," McCoy said. "With the demolition of the Jolly Kone building, the museum felt that the sign would be a nice fit with its growing collection of local vintage neon." 

"We are in the process of developing a transportation exhibit and event space at the museum," McCoy added. "The Jolly Kone sign will find a good home in the Village."

But McCoy cautioned that the museum's philosophy is not to acquire local neon signs just for the sake of displaying them. Keeping these signs at their original locations is the best option, he said.

"If the business is still viable, the sign should remain there," McCoy said. 

These cultural treasures enrich the cityscape and bring personality to the businesses they advertise. As far as McCoy is concerned, the iconic Mexicali sign should remain at the Mexicali restaurant. The same is true for the Sinaloa sign and many others.

But the neon sign that perched over Cay Health Foods in Downtown Bakersfield from the mid-1950s to the closing of the store in 2013 has been stored in the museum's warehouse during those interim years. The Harrer family donated it to the museum and family member John Harrer expressed some disappointment that it has remained in the warehouse where no one could enjoy it.

But Wear had some good news on that front Wednesday. She said she expects to install the Cay sign in the museum's Neon Courtyard around the same time the Jolly Kone sign is erected.

That news had Harrer thrilled when he heard it.

"Fantastic," he said. "Thanks for the wonderful news!"

Steven Mayer can be reached at 661-395-7353. Follow him on Facebook and on Twitter: @semayerTBC.

(6) comments


The pix of the Silver Fox sign reminds me of what the place used to look like. Once it was a mini midcentury modern masterpiece with its related angles and masses. Today it's covered with a funky rock wainscot and something that looks like those Banyan trees growing over ancient ruins in the far east.

Gawd, please, shave that stuff off and restore the building's appearance.


Love the idea!


And there's that magic expression "eminent domain" . . .to remind us who's in charge. "Centennial Corridor" is another term, like "High-Speed Rail" and "24th Street". Those chills down my spine aren't from the cold weather only the cold reality of government-in-action ($$) beyond 'humanity'. BTW, don't we already have "hi-speed" 'rail' a bit west called I-5? The parking lots haven't been mentioned for train passengers. I'm not into self-driving cars or Uber . . .as i have always enjoyed owning & driving my own (all 8, vintage and 2-wheel). On the other hand, for fun, i'd enjoy a high-view monorail centered on "The Five" (like Disneyland) . . . for a bountiful ranch-orchard-farmland-desert-lake-mountain-sky & settlements panorama . . .!


The Jolly Cone sign is like a number of other signs of similar type and age in the community. The one thing they seem to have in common is the business owners have not maintained them but chosen to add additional signs that are both redundant and providing unnecessary information that as for food service outlets is more appropriate for the menu than cluttering up the sign structure.

Another good example is Andre's on Brundage Ln. To their credit they have repainted this sign much to the improvement of their street presence. Like the Jolly Cone site, their historic and interesting sign is cluttered with unnecessary added signs that are redundant, unsightly and contribute nothing of value.

If those food service businesses want to increase their traffic they need to take a hint from their major chain successful competitors. Skip the clutter of added signs touting menu items and clean up the buildings themselves. Paint what needs painting and clean, not paint, those parts designed to be not painted. And loose the clutter.


I surprised myself when I saw I had misspelled "Jolly Kone" when referring to the iconic sign. I really thought I had written it the way the sign is designed. In fact I thought I had even dismissed an auto-correct suggestion in order to keep it that way. So, now, I've "taught" my spell checker that "Kone" is a correct spelling.

Oh, well...


The problem is, you can't see the neon at the KC Museum lit up unless you just happen to be going to an event in the evening. As for Green Frog, the Museum of Neon Art had to fly in experts from across the country to restore the sign to working order, and it is proudly displayed, fully lit and functional, in their lobby for all to see.
I'd love to see it in Bakersfield, of course, but it would never be seen and enjoyed as it was meant to be. It would be great if the KC Museum had an enclosed, darkened space to properly display these treasures.

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