For the next several months, a group of county businesses and Aliso Viejo residents will thank Persian Gulf veterans in a big way: a sign with letters 75 feet high and 50 feet wide, which cover an area the size of two football fields.
The massive message is in a vacant lot at Laguna Hills Drive and Liberty, directly beneath the flight path of pilots from El Toro Marine Corps Air Station. It says, "Aliso Viejo Salutes Our Troops."
"You really can't tell what it says up close," said David Blythe, a volunteer who helped assemble the sign. "But when I saw the aerial photos, I thought, 'Boy, that thing is huge."'
Like many ideas, the concept started small, but snowballed once word about it got out. Blythe contacted the Mission Viejo Co. for help. The next thing he knew, several community groups and local businesses were involved.
About 200 people showed up May 4 to put the sign together. An engineering firm surveyed the parcel and marked where the words would be placed. The letters were pre-cut from large sheets of nylon used for erosion control. Each company and community group was responsible for installing at least one letter.
"That way everyone got to take a personal interest," said Wendy Wetzels, a Mission Viejo Co. spokeswoman. "We wanted to get it ready in time for the (Orange County Victory) Parade," held last weekend.
The sign will remain in place "probably through the end of summer," she said. "We want the message to go out loud and clear."