Ad campaign highlights Gaslamp Quarter's 'red light' past

Some businesses putting up red lights

SAN DIEGO - Businesses are trying to lure people into downtown San Diego's Gaslamp Quarter with some red lights this holiday season, but many may be surprised about the meaning behind those lights.

10News played a new radio ad for shoppers, and one person called it "strange," while another "thought it was fake."

The radio ad begins, "The ghost of Christmas past has never looked so good. Visit San Diego's former red light district this holiday season ..."

The ad ties a Gaslamp Quarter visit to a colorful past beginning in the 1850s, when the Gaslamp area became home to gunslingers and brothels until police cleaned up the area in the raids of 1912.

"It is definitely provocative," said Brandy Shimabukuro, communications director for the Gaslamp Quarter Association, which created the ad.

Shimabukuro said the campaign is designed to highlight the uniqueness of a historic district.

"It's meant to be tongue-and-cheek. It's meant to say, hey, this is our history, come and see what we're all about, see what we have here today," said Shimabukuro.

To fit the theme, red covers have been put up on the streetlamps and every business has been encouraged to put up their own red lights.

The red light campaign was given the green light by some San Diegans.

"It's part of the history and should be celebrated in a way," said downtown resident Iain Kane.

One tourist said that celebration is an odd one.   

"When you think red light district, you're thinking hookers and illicit activity, not thinking holiday cheer," the tourist said.

 

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