What’s Next For Iconic Wenatchee Sign?
Wenatchee's familiar Skookum sign, depicting a smiling Native American caricature is no longer atop the Office Depot location on Wenatchee Avenue. Bluebird Inc., a fruit shipping and packing company owns the sign and removed the sign for repairs but intends to keep it in storage. Company officials said they no longer use the Skookum logo in it's marketing efforts and use of the image may have been hurtful to some.
The sign was first erected in 1921 and has been located in several locations in Wenatchee. The last two decades, it sat on top of the Office Depot which was a former Skookum Fruit packing warehouse.
Generations of residents and visitors say they will miss the sign's unique design; eyes that moved back and forth and one that would occasionally wink! People have shared on social media that as children, their parents told them if they saw the Skookum sign wink at them, it meant good luck or some other promise of good fortune.
Now that the sign is gone, potentially forever, ideas are circulating to get the Skookum sign on display somewhere for the public to enjoy for it's iconic or historic value.
Wenatchee Mayor Frank Kuntz has suggested the city council could consider purchasing the 14 foot tall structure for it's historical value. He told KPQ News that conversations over cultural sensitivities could be addressed with Colville Confederated Tribal members.
Kuntz said he has also received numerous emails supporting the idea and offering help including refurbishing and repair services on the century old sign. Social media ideas have also circulated about a possible new home for the sign including a display inside the Wenatchee Valley Museum and Cultural Center while others want it displayed somewhere outdoors for passers by to enjoy as they have for the last century.
On a personal note, I was 14 when I moved to Washington Sate in 1973 and was living in the Puget Sound area. On car trips into Eastern Washington, my first recollections of Wenatchee were Ohme Gardens and the smiling Skookum sign! I would move to Chelan a decade later but I never forgot that sign so it did it's job-welcoming me to Wenatchee and leaving a lasting impression. Let's hope Skookum can continue to smile on us all.