MODESTO -- Over the decades, Modesto's arch has graced postcards and promotional materials, served as a backdrop for news broadcasts and appeared in unlikely places including the inside sleeve art for the rock band Hole's 1998 CD, "Celebrity Skin," and the 2009 animated movie "Monsters vs. Aliens."
Now the arch is on custom-made chocolate bars being sold to help raise money to restore the city's well-known symbol.
The Modesto Chamber of Commerce expects to raise a few thousand dollars from selling the commemorative "Arch Bars," but the promotion also will decide who gets to light the iconic arch during a centennial celebration Oct. 26.
Of the 5,000 candy bars that will be in circulation, 10 will have golden tickets inside the wrapper, entitling the holders to enter a drawing for the honor of flipping the switch to light the arch. Silver tickets inside 10 of the Arch Bars are for a drawing to bury a time capsule during the dedication, and 10 bronze tickets are for a drawing to win a weekend resort stay.
Other tickets hidden in some Arch Bars, which cost $3, are good for instant prizes such as dinners, bowling or carwashes, but most buyers will just get a chocolate bar imprinted with the arch. The number of instant-win tickets likely will increase as sponsors donate more prizes, said chamber President Cecil Russell. The chamber made arrangements with Beckles Candy and Gifts of Modesto to produce the Arch Bars.
A three-month project began last week with an aim to restore the 100-year-old Modesto arch to its original appearance and splendor. The arch, at I and Ninth streets, was built in 1912 and features the motto "Water Wealth Contentment Health."
Workers recently stripped old wiring from the arch and are preparing the structure for a historically accurate restoration. The project involves repairing the pedestals and painting the arch in its original colors. Energy-efficient lights will replace the older bulbs removed from the landmark.
The restored arch will have flagpoles on each side, as seen in early photographs.
Local groups hope to raise more than $100,000 for the restoration, plus $20,000 for a maintenance fund. As of Tuesday, the campaign had brought in more than $40,000. Tax-deductible donations can be made payable to the Stanislaus Community Foundation. Those contributing $1,000 to $10,000 or more will be recognized at the dedication, organizers said.
Community leaders planned the restoration project and centennial celebration after noting the landmark was showing its age.
In addition to the lighting ceremony and other activities, the Oct. 26 dedication will include a 100-car parade under the arch. The call has gone out to auto clubs to find a car for every year going back to 1912.
Chris Murphy, one of the parade organizers, said finding classic cars from the '50s and '60s is easy enough, but more challenging is the hunt for cars from the 1920s and earlier.
"We've got 1928 through '31 covered," said Paul Gissible, past president of Modesto Area A's, a Ford Model A club. "Before the 1920s, you have to go back to the horseless carriages. That's back in what we call the brass days."
Organizers are getting young people involved with the restoration. Students at Central Catholic High School are selling the candy bars and Modesto High School teens have been asked to make items for the time capsule.
"We owe it to our citizens to do a better job of telling Modesto's story," Murphy said. "Kids need to know about the history of our town and how it was created."
Arch Bars can be purchased at the Modesto Chamber of Commerce office, 1114 J St., at The DoubleTree Hotel and other locations. Those interested in donating money for the arch restoration may call the chamber at (209) 577-5757 or City Hall at (209) 577-5224.
Bee staff writer Ken Carlson can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2321.