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A sunny send-off for Cottage View Drive-In sign

Crews prepare the Cottage View Drive-In sign for relocation Tuesday. The sign was removed in three pieces and transported to Hastings. Bulletin photo by Emily Buss2 / 3
The large red Cottage View Drive-In sign was taken down Tuesday and loaded onto a semi-trailer to be transported to Little Log House Pioneer Village in Hastings. Bulletin photo by Emily Buss3 / 3

A sign of the times has seen its last days in Cottage Grove as crews on Tuesday dismantled the iconic Cottage View Drive-In sign piece by piece.

Along with the drive-in screen and equipment, the sign is being transported south to the Little Log House Pioneer Village in Hastings.

"It's a little bittersweet to watch the sign go down," drive-in owner Gerry Herringer said while watching roof of the sign detach. "We've had some great memories here. But, this too shall pass."

Passersby on Highway 61 honked in solidarity of the beloved drive-in and little by little cars parked along East Point Douglas Road to watch the sign that had stood for more than 50 years come down.

"It's just too bad," Herringer said about having to close the drive-in. "But, I'm just so happy that the sign has been saved."

As part of a packaged deal between the city of Cottage Grove, Herringer and Little Log House Pioneer Village owner Steve Bauer, the white screen, projection equipment and red sign are being removed to make way for a retail shopping center and 177,000-square-foot Walmart store.

Herringer sold approximately 24 acres to the retail giant, which is expected to anchor a future retail and commercial area dubbed Shoppes at Cottage View.

Once the drive-in equipment is situated in Hastings, Bauer has said he will refurbish the 1960s sign and keep it on display.

For nearly five decades, the neon sign served as a roadside beacon for movie-goers headed to an evening of outdoor cinema. Children's movies, action thrillers, romantic comedies, chick flicks and slasher pics graced the mega white screen and attracted visitors from all over the region to indulge in the classic drive-in experience.

Herringer said earlier this month that the sign was a big part of Cottage Grove's history and was happy to see it going to a good home.

"In a way it's really heartwarming to me," Herringer said of the sign being a longtime city staple. "If in fact is it a symbol of this community, I'm happy to know I had a small part in that."