What’s your sign? ‘Hidden’ Honors Celebrate Citizens

Last Updated:June 10, 2024
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What’s your sign? ‘Hidden’ Honors Celebrate Citizens What’s your sign? ‘Hidden’ Honors Celebrate Citizens
Heart & Soul

Every sign at Silver Dollar City holds a story that we hold dear.

Our pioneer spirit is splashed all over City streets and buildings on beautifully painted boards as “advertisements.” From lye soap to stagecoaches to toys and trinkets, the old-timey ads are for bogus businesses but celebrate the heart and soul of very real Citizens.

Each legacy sign was custom-created for an employee who lovingly served The City for 25 years. Their career milestone is marked with a special dedication each summer, and it all begins in the heart of Jessica Loftis and the artful eye of Gage Becker.

“We begin brainstorming how to celebrate those folks as soon as HR gives us the list each January,” says Jessica Loftis, Maintenance & Construction supervisor. “We want to make sure their sign reflects their personality and their time here with us.”

Jessica Loftis Jessica Loftis
3 25 year Signs 3 25 year Signs

That process starts with a form to fill out with basic questions like where they want their sign to hang, which can be on any building except the church. Jessica recently, though, added a new question that personalizes the signs even more.

“I ask them to tell us about their time with us. What’s their story? It gives us a glimpse into those little unknown details we can incorporate into their sign.”

For example, an employee mentioned she used to wait for her husband each evening by the streetlight near the Frisco train. This month, she’ll receive her 25-year sign which “advertises” lamps and depicts streetlights.

“It’s really special to know the signs have somewhat secret meanings that only the employee knows about,” Jessica says. “I hope our guests will notice the signs as they pass by and wonder what they truly represent.”

25 Year Signs 25 Year Signs
St Nick Sign St Nick Sign

By March of each year, Jessica has drafted her ideas for the “product” or “business” each sign will advertise—each incorporating the name of the employee and the date they started. Then, it’s off to Gage Becker who masterfully paints these special projects. Gage, a tour guide at Marvel Cave, has spent half his life working at The City and has quite the story of his own.

“Growing up as a kid at the park and having a love for hand-painted art, I fell deeply for the atmosphere and charming signs the park had hanging around,” he says. “I’ve been helping create the 25-year signs for over ten years now. Twenty-five years is a huge commitment for employees, so it’s a huge honor for me to create these signs that leave a lasting impression on their legacy and celebrate our special hosts for their years of service.”

Gage started his stint with sign creation by using watercolors but is constantly adapting and evolving his methods.

“I’ve taught myself how to do digital design,” he smiles. “Even though I’m using a tablet, the same traditional process of illustrating and painting by hand applies. It’s 21st-century technology made to look like it came out of the 1880s.”

Gage Becker Gage Becker
Gage Becker Gage Becker

The team at the carpentry shop is also proud to play a part in these legacy projects. They create and stain custom frames to hold the priceless pieces.

“It means a lot to them that they can honor Citizens by making and hanging the signs,” Jessica says. “It takes a lot of hands to make sure each one is just right for each employee.”

Gage and Jessica both love hiding little “Easter eggs” that celebrate the employee’s start date. For example, a sign advertising an excavating company says it can work “94 acres a day” which is a sly way of saying the employee started in 1994. Another example: President Brad Thomas’ sign proclaiming his re-election campaign for City Mayor says he’s been experienced since 1891…a nod to his start date in 1991.

“All of those little inside jokes or secret hints make looking at the signs so much fun,” Jessica says. “Each sign is such a very different story.” “Different stories of different journeys,” Gage adds.

“Celebrating our Citizens is so easy because we have the best people in the world right here.”

Silver Dollar City’s next Service Pin ceremony is on June 27. In addition to the 25-year signs, other commemorative gifts will also be presented for various career milestones, including a Dogwood tree planted to honor Citizens who’ve served 50 years. Four employees passed that five-decade mark this year.

Brad Thomas Brad Thomas
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Meet Brandei Clifton

As Public Relations Manager for the Silver Dollar City Company, she is eager to tap into her journalism background to hunt down “heart tugs” to write about—those stories that celebrate…

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