ATLANTIC CITY — Entering or exiting the city from Ventnor now just got a little more attractive, thanks to two locals.
Friends Cindy Owen and Anne Marie Wilkins were reminiscing about growing up in the city one day and thought about ways they could give back.
They came up with trying to change the “welcome” and “thank you for visiting” signs at the border, which had been small, plain, white rectangles at the time.
Now, two new welcome signs sit at the Atlantic City-Ventnor border that are decorated with an image of the Absecon Lighthouse, rimmed by a rope with dolphins along the sides.
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“We all love it here. I was born and raised here,” Owen said. “It’s just a wonderful thing that the community spirit can come together.”
Owen, 51, who lives in Bucks County, Pennsylvania, and has a second home in Lower Chelsea, and Wilkins, 50, of Chelsea, came up with the idea while sitting on Owen’s front porch one night last year. They had taken a walk and looked around at parts of the city they wanted to help spruce up.
They approached 6th Ward Councilman Jesse Kurtz with the sign idea, and he in turn brought it up to the city.
The two found sponsors, and a year later, two signs were installed, one at the Atlantic Avenue entrance at Newton Avenue and the other at Jackson and Ventnor avenues.
Owen’s husband, Lawrence, and his brother Tom worked on the design and graphics for the signs.
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Cindy Owen called the effort “all heart and soul.”
“This should inspire others to get more engaged with your little corner of the city,” Kurtz said. “We now have the best welcome signs on the island.”
Officials said they hope to have more signs installed at other entrances to the city as more funds become available through sponsors.
The sponsors for the signs include Mexico Restaurant and Bar, Wonder Bar, the Atlantic City Arts Foundation, Stockton University and FantaSea Resorts.
Mayor Don Guardian said when he took office, he was “embarrassed” by the signage entering Atlantic City.
“Of course we had no money to do the type of signs that we wanted to do,” he said. “I can’t tell you how many people have noticed these signs.”