When College Grove Center in East County completes its renovation this winter, one of its first visitors , a permanent one , will be rather familiar.
It’s the neon majorette, a familiar figure alongside the old Campus Drive-In on El Cajon Boulevard for decades. From 1989 to 1998, it was at the Mann Theatres in College Grove. Now, it will be visible from the Martin Luther King Jr. Freeway at the College Avenue exit.
The figure packs additional acclaim for being the tallest neon structure in the country, said a rep for the shopping center.
Currently, the majorette is in storage, the rep said. When reassembled, it will be 50 feet wide and 80 feet tall, with 1,930 feet of neon tubing.
Wearing a plumed Aztec headdress and twirling a baton in its right hand, the majorette is loosely modeled after Marion Caster Heatherly Baker, a top drum majorette in the 1940s. San Diegans Austin Linn Gray and Joe Schmith created it.
Baker never formally posed for the design, but she was a prominent local figure , having been head drum majorette at San Diego High School, SDSU, the Naval Training Center, and later for the NFL team the Rams, who were in Los Angeles at the time. Baker had also been in five Rose Bowl Parades.