The first time Bill and I drove down to San Diego and saw this sign we couldn't believe our eyes. We just weren't quite sure what to make of it. I had to find out the story, and learned that after numerous fatalities of people attempting to evade border security, especially at this most-deadly location where the first sign was installed just south of the border checkpoint on I5 near Camp Pendleton where people would run for the beach, the signs were installed in the 1990's to warn motorists to watch for pedestrians fleeing from vehicles before reaching the checkpoint. Text signs were too difficult for passing motorists to read, so it was decided that a graphical sign was needed. Known as the Running Family, the sign was designed by graphic artist John Hood. The signs soon came to represent the increasing tension over US-Mexico border policy. While many Hispanics considered the signs to be racial stereotyping, many Californians used it as a symbol of protest against illegal immigration and others just thought it quite funny. Soon the sign could be seen on T-shirts, coffee mugs and stickers.
Whenever we had visiting guests we were sure to point out the sign (since a trip down to San Diego is always part of the plan) and have a good chuckle while everyone shook their heads in amazement. So of course, when my parents visited last month we looked for the signs and I couldn't find it! How could I miss it? I had three of us keeping an eye out for it, and it's huge and yellow!
A few weeks pass and I'm going through my archive today and I came across this photo I took in 2005. That prompted me to do a little research and I found out that the signs had been decommissioned earlier this year and have been removed. With the increased security at the US borders since 9-11, fatalities are no longer the concern they had been in the 90's and there was public pressure to remove the signs.
So this is my only photo of the Running Family sign, in the first original location, taken on September 11, 2005.
One of the signs is now on display at the Smithsonian.
Mom and Dad, sorry you didn't get to see it in person. You'll have to settle with this photo or a visit to the Smithsonian.
Nothing after the jump.