Immersive History

“It’s a shame we live in a throw-away society,” says Kathleen Koeplin. Like many who accept that change can be beneficial, she laments the prevalence of implosions. “I think when you first started it was hard getting signs, but people are now seeing more value in restoration. These signs are Las Vegas history. They are our history,” insists Kathleen. Donating to the Museum is one way that she gives back to the local community.

Kathleen dedicated a Neon Museum paver to her brother who passed away in 1974 at the age of 30. The inscription reads: “In honor of my brother Rob / Viva Las Vegas / I love Las Vegas / Kathleen Koeplin.”

“My younger sister, Teresa, and I would watch Elvis Presley movies with Rob when we were younger. And so that’s why I have a paver dedicated to him because it just reminds me of him, and I think he’s in heaven happy.” Viva Las Vegas is one of Kathleen’s favorite films, and as a child she could recite the entire script from memory.

Nowadays Kathleen is a fan of architecture and in particular, midcentury modern design. “I wasn’t old enough to be here in the ‘60s,” she explains, “but I just kind of enjoy the neon. It’s beautiful.” Aside from her interests in architecture, Kathleen is a fan of the events produced by the Museum. She still has keepsakes from the Lido re-lighting (2023) and Hard Rock Guitar re-lighting (2018).

In her opinion, The Neon Museum offers a glimpse into bygone eras and how the city has evolved in the past century. “If I could go back in time, I’d travel to the ‘50s and ‘60s of the modern era,” she says wistfully, wishing she could have attended a late-night show at the Moulin Rouge Hotel or Sands Hotel and Casino. 

Kathleen is quick to point out that the Golden Steer Steakhouse, established in 1958, was a favorite hangout of the Rat Pack, and the restaurant has booths dedicated to famous patrons like Sammy Davis, Mario Andretti, John Wayne, and others. “You can’t get that retro vibe anywhere else,” she says, “and it’s got the same vintage look to it with red padded seats.”

For Kathleen, who is originally from California, Las Vegas and family memories are intertwined. “I used to like going to Palace Station,” she remembers, “even though I don’t really gamble. It was fun when they had the choo-choo train.” Palace Station signs were acquired by the Museum in 2017 and included the train and a set of Palace Station letters.

Though, one of Kathleen’s favorite family memories in Las Vegas is the night she spontaneously decided to get matching Vegas Vic tattoos with her sister-in-law, Carmela. When asked her opinion of Vic’s Las Vegas, the jazz bar that opened Winter 2023, “It’s not time travel, but it’s a good time!”

Pavers in Electric Promenade are sold out. Gifts can be made anytime in honor of, or as a tribute to someone. Visit the Support page and select a fund.

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