MODESTO -- The Modesto arch's face-lift and fund-raising campaigns continue gearing up for the centennial celebration of the historic landmark.
The "Modesto" lettering and the motto "Water Wealth Contentment Health" have been taken down and are in the process of being reinforced, rewired and repainted. The accompanying fund-raising drive is in full swing, with close to half of the target $120,000 raised for the project.
"Things are going well so far," said Modesto Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Officer Cecil Russell. "This is such a fun project, and it makes you feel proud to be involved in history."
Russell said about $55,000 to $60,000 of the desired $120,000 $100,000 for restoration and $20,000 for a maintenance fund has been raised.
Sales are brisk as well of the commemorative Arch Bars, chocolate bars with images of the Modesto landmark on them. More than 5,000 of the $3 bars have been sold since the project's launch last month.
In addition to being sold at the Modesto Chamber of Commerce office and DoubleTree Hotel, the bars will start being sold at Modesto Boyett Petroleum stations and Gallo Center for the Arts events.
Russell said that no special golden, silver or bronze tickets giving away the chance to light the arch, bury the time capsule or win a resort getaway have been found. But several instant-win prizes have been claimed.
Since being taken down, the arch's signs have been worked on at Design Metals in Ceres. The interior framework has been reinforced, and the backing has been replaced.
"It's an honor to be chosen to do this," said Design Metals General Manager Dennis Bishop. "We've cleaned up the facade and restructured the interior. The guys did a fine job."
Design Metals is among about 10 local companies, including Collins Electrical and Acme Construction, working on the project. The signs next will be sent to be repainted.
The arch itself will be sandblasted and repainted in coming weeks. And the pillars will be repaired and rewired. Finally, LED lighting will be installed.
The renovations are leading up to a lighting ceremony Oct. 26. The 100th anniversary celebration will feature a 100-car parade, one from each year of the arch's existence dating to 1912. Russell said about 70 cars have been lined up for the event.
At the event, the arch's old light bulbs will be sold as memorabilia to raise funds for the renovations.
"All we need now is two things to happen for the 100th anniversary event to be a success," he said. "We need God to bless us with nice weather. And we need the train schedule to cooperate."
Bee staff writer Marijke Rowland can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (209) 578-2284.