Arriving by pedal power, pop vocalist flips the switch for the third annual Venice Sign Holiday Lighting

P!nk and daughter Willow Photo by Edizen Stowell /

P!nk and daughter Willow
Photo by Edizen Stowell /

By Joe Piasecki

In 2012 it was Robert Downey Jr.

Last year it was Anjelica Huston.

For Friday’s third annual Venice Sign Holiday Lighting the surprise guest was pop singer-songwriter P!nk, a longtime Venice local who arrived on a beach cruiser bicycle with husband Carey Hart and 3-year-old daughter Willow in tow.

“I love Venice. I’m all about Venice. I was dreaming about living in Venice since I was 9 years old; I moved here when I was 19. These are my people. It’s that you get all walks of life,” P!nk, born Alecia Beth Moore in Pennsylvania, told The Argonaut before taking the stage to flip the ceremonial light switch alongside Los Angeles City Councilman Mike Bonin.

Sponsored by the Venice Chamber of Commerce, the event marks the holiday season with a block party at Windward Circle and the ceremonial re-lighting of Windward Avenue’s iconic Venice sign with red and green bulbs instead of the usual incandescent white.

The sign lighting is as much about community identity as it is about fanfare. Venice founding father Abbot Kinney installed the original Venice sign in 1906 as a way to show off new electric light technology. The sign was later taken down for unknown reasons and lost to history, but in 2007 a group of residents led by Canal Club and Danny’s Venice owner Daniel Samakow funded a nearly exact replica — down to its 87 light bulbs, changed out by hand for the holiday lighting.

“This has become a very cool event. It started with a community desire to have something iconic here in the community — the Venice sign,” Bonin said. “For three years in a row it’s been a big, fun party with excellent music, where different walks of life from Venice come together to enjoy the moment. It’s the kind of thing we need more of in Venice. We need to do more positive, community-celebrating programming because good stuff begets other good stuff.”

Hundreds of people attended the sign lighting, preceded by a 40-minute performance of the Venice Symphony Orchestra, a nonprofit collective of volunteer musicians who blend contemporary pop with classical music.

“It’s a lot of fun. It’s exhilarating,” Venice Symphony Orchestra Director Wesley Flowers said. “It’s great to look out and see a sea of people watching the hard work we’ve done come together.”

Flowers said the orchestra is seeking funding to hold a similar event on the Fourth of July.

“We have the red and white bulbs. We just need to buy some blue ones,” he said.

LAPD Pacific Division Capt. Brian Johnson and newly elected state Assemblywoman Autumn Burke also made appearances.

“It’s great to have an event like this in Venice, where it’s family oriented and there’s an amazingly diverse group of people here to enjoy the holidays. It’s
a fantastic event,” Burke said.

P!nk, 35, also celebrated the community’s defining eclectic sprit during her on-stage remarks.

“The thing I love about Venice the most is there’s room for all of us. We can all live together and love together, and the spirit and the feistiness and the art and just all of it. I’m so in love,” she said. “I hope you guys have such a happy, happy, warm, yummy, delicious holiday. Merry everything.”