Iconic Sign Shines Again with FloppyFlex

The classic arched front-entry sign of Southgate Shopping Center in Lakeland, Florida, is now shining brightly again, thanks to Firefly FloppyFlex™, the high quality, professional LED neon replacement. After being dark for decades, property managers Crossman & Company decided it was time to bring this beloved sign back to life.  Retrofitting it with the latest technology, delivering a variety of bright colours and animated looks, promised to re-energize this historic commercial area.

“The main motivation behind the project to revive the Southgate sign was the love the local community has for it,” said Stephanie Carten, marketing manager for Crossman & Company. “We purposely kept the iconic look and stylized script, taking the sign back to its former glory but with a technical edge.”

The famous 26-meter tall and 42-meter-wide Arch has been a pop-culture icon since it was built in 1957. It has appeared in several Hollywood movies, perhaps most famously Tim Burton’s 1990 hit Edward Scissorhands, featuring actor Johnny Depp. Disney used the shopping centre to shoot scenes for The One and Only Ivan, an adaptation of the Newberry-medal winning novel by Katherine Applegate, released in August 2020, listing actress Angelina Jolie as a producer.

Looking for the best replacement for the old glass neon, Crossman & Company contacted lighting distributors Lamp Sales, who knew exactly who to call.  Shortly thereafter, Kyle Ledford, SESCO’s Regional Product Specialist, and TMB’s Chris Curran travelled to Lakeland to assess the task. After a brief review of the project, they had no doubt that FloppyFlex™ was the right product for the job.

FloppyFlex bends easily and can be supplied cut precisely to spec, in this case fluently following the bends of the legacy sign’s cursive writing.  FloppyFlex is a green-friendly, multi-colour, low voltage, easy to install, long-life, decorative lighting system, and is void of the issues usually associated with neon, such as breakage and fire risk. It is also weatherproof, IP rated, and designed for permanent outdoor installation – ideal for Florida’s extreme weather.

Given the age of the sign, there were no CAD files, or even drawings available, so the team carefully measured the entire span of the structure to design the FloppyFlex “cuts” and the installation control inputs/outputs using TMB’s RGB FloppyDrives™.  A total of 343 meters of FloppyFlex was used, precisely IP68 factory-moulded for each individual run length.  The first 174 meters were used on the SOUTHGATE letters, at two runs per letter.  The  SHOPPING CENTER letters were based on one run per letter. A further 169 meters of RGB FloppyFlex LED Neon serviced the top and bottom architectural details.  A system of 39 TMB ProPlex FloppyDrive DIN Rail 4×2’s drives were installed to control the FloppyFlex, with full, remote, web-based access. The project was successfully completed earlier this year.

Holiday season visitors to Southgate will experience the landmark arch with a new nightly light-show series. Going forward, the Center will have almost unlimited options to (remotely) customize their sign for different seasons, holidays and special events, making it once again a must-see attraction in Lakeland.

FloppyFlex™ is super-bright, long-lasting, durable and easy to install with simple training. Perfect for use indoors and outdoors, FloppyFlex is available in three sizes, in Side-to-Side and Front-to-Back bend options, with a variety of single-colours, RGB, RGBW, plus Digital RGB and RGBW with DMX multi-pixel control. Pure white colour temperatures range from 2100 to 5700K and standard single colour versions include red, green, blue, yellow, orange, amber, plus new pink, and purple. Accessories include a truly comprehensive range of mounting profiles. New silicone versions introduced this year provide even greater flexibility and long-term outdoor reliability.