It would appear that Vacaville is finally getting serious about creating an attractive gateway to the biggest little city in northwestern Solano County.
City planners have been working feverishly on a City Gateway Design Master Plan to make Vacaville a little more memorable to those who find themselves wandering down the community’s quaint highways and byways looking for adventure and aesthetic stuff they can’t find in West Sacramento.
Let’s face it, a tumbleweed-infested Nut Tree and road signs leading to a state prison are hardly the things of which lifelong memories are made – unless, of course, you’re on your way to temporary housing in the aforementioned state prison.
No, if Vacaville’s going to attract visitors and make lasting memories, it’s going to have to top places like nearby Fairfield, which has a way cool brewery; and Davis, which has been pulling in the freeway crowd with a series of signs featuring multicolored fluorescent frogs as big as German shepherds touting the community’s enviable assets.
Yeah, I know what you’re thinking: “C’mon, we’ve got big frogs here, too. We coulda had frogs. This is one righteous rip-off. Why does Davis get to have all the psychedelic frogs?”
Don’t fret. Fairfield may have gotten the brewskis and Davis cornered the amphibians on LSD, but Vacaville still has plenty of unique assets we can use to dramatize our gateways and attract wide-eyed visitors to the home of Fiesta Days and gravity-challenged motorists.
Vacaville’s ongoing public art program could point the way to maximizing the memorability of the community’s gateway. The city, for example, has a striking sculpture of a welcoming jester beckoning patrons into the Performing Arts Theatre.
Why not utilize this goofy but lovable icon of community culture to let visitors know that they’ve finally arrived at the fabled gates of Vacaville?
All the city would need to do is copy about 50 of them in faux bronze (i.e.: plastic) and then place them along strategic portions of Interstates 80 and 505 on the outskirts of town.
Put a few jesters in the center divider oleanders, station one at each freeway offramp and perhaps have a jester of two balanced upon the city’s soaring overpasses. They’ll be a sight that motorists won’t soon forget and which will undoubtedly draw squeals of childish delight from awestruck youngsters.
“Ooooh, look Dad! It’s Vacaville, the City of Medieval Clowns! Let’s stop!”
It won’t be long before Vacaville City Council members begin donning authentic jesters’ garb for their Tuesday night meetings and the Police Department incorporates a jovial jester into its uniform patches and patrol car insignias.
(Hey, if the cops in Salem, Mass., can sport broomstick-riding witches on their uniforms, I guess our cops can have grinning jesters on theirs. Besides, jesters are, like, so much cooler than witches…)
And if we expand our public art gateway project to include the occasional life-sized statue of Sammy Steelhead, the community’s beloved baseball icon, we’re sure to pull in the tourist dollars faster than the Casa de Fruta.
Originally published August 11, 2002
Sounds like a win-win situation to me, amigos …