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Sweepstakes, ending soon, offer chance to touch Hollywood sign

March 19, 2012 |  3:53 pm


Want to see the Hollywood sign? You can get pretty close on a hike. But if you're close enough to touch it, odds are you're breaking the law. The sign is fenced and generally off limits to the public.

Sweepstakes ending late Monday offer a rare legal exception. The prizewinner and a guest will get to visit the famed sign and actually lay their hands on it.

LA INC., the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau, is sponsoring the contest, which ends at 11:59 p.m. Monday and is open to anyone in the country.

It includes two round-trip economy tickets to Los Angeles on American Airlines and a one-night stay at the Los Angeles Marriott Downtown.

Those entering from points far off, however, might want to ready their suitcases and work excuses now.

The winner will need to be in Los Angeles on Thursday.

The sweepstakes are being held to celebrate the Trust for Public Land's successful campaign to raise money to preserve nearby Cahuenga Peak, which two years ago became part of Los Angeles' Griffith Park. The contest prizewinner will attend a ceremony Thursday to honor those — including Hugh Hefner, Aileen Getty and the Tiffany & Co. Foundation — whose donations made the purchase of the 138-acre property possible.

The sweepstakes winner, who will be announced Tuesday, will need to be in L.A. to visit the sign at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, right before the Cahuenga Peak event.

At the event, dedication plaques attached to boulders will be unveiled at new trailheads leading to the peak, said Carolyn Ramsay, Los Angeles program director for the trust, which was recruited to lead the fundraising campaign to buy the land by L.A. City Councilman Tom LaBonge.

"Most people think this mountaintop was protected, but it wasn't. It was once owned by Howard Hughes, but it had been sold to a developer who was hoping to develop it for luxury housing," Ramsay said. Saving the 1,820-foot peak just west of the Hollywood Sign from development, she said, "is a major expansion of Griffith Park as well as a protection of the Hollywood sign viewshed."

Thursday's ceremony has been in the works for a long time. The sweepstakes, which opened last Thursday, were a last-minute brainstorm — the reason for the quick turnaround.

The sweepstakes prize also includes two Hollywood CityPASS booklets, which cover Star Line and Red Line tours; a guided tour of either the Kodak Theatre or the Hollywood Museum in the Max Factor Buildin;, and a visit to Madame Tussauds Hollywood. Along with the airfare and hotel room, it might seem geared to the tourist.

But Beth Brett, communications director for LA INC., said if a Los Angeles resident won, "We would be overjoyed.

"It's just a great experience for any of us to get the chance to do this," she said of the hands-on visit to the sign.


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-- Nita Lelyveld

Photo: If you win, you can get close enough to touch it. Credit: Los Angeles Times