You may know it as that log that sat outside Hope’s station house for all those years, or you may know it as the iconic archway sign visible in the frame as Rambo prepares to enter the town that would become his nightmare.
The words ‘Gateway to Holidayland’ emblazoned along a log that formed the entrance to the imagined town of Hope, Washington was a prop in the film that kicked off the Rambo film franchise. With the help of Communities in Bloom volunteers Victor Smith and John Mason, the ‘Gateway’ portion of the sign was sawed off and moved to the parking lot of the Hope Lookout Trail Dec. 3.
In the film, John Rambo enters Hope under the sign wearing a military green jacket and hoisted onto his shoulder a simple rucksack carrying his earthly belongings. First Blood was filmed in Hope in the winter of 1981 and since then, fans of the franchise have been flocking to town to see for themselves where it all began.
Hope’s tourism and First Blood promoter Brian McKinney called the dismantling of the sign a “bittersweet moment in your favourite town,” for First Blood fans. He assured them that the portion of the sign is being preserved “just down the road” from where John Rambo made his now-famous entry into the town.
The carting away of the iconic local First Blood prop was part of the preparations of the 111 Old Hope Princeton Way site, which will also involve the demolition of Hope’s station house in the new year. Read more about this on Page A5.
This isn’t the first piece of Hope’s cinematic history that no longer stands – just under a decade ago, a goodbye to the Rambo Bridge was attended by around 1,000 people. The wooden Kawkawa Lake Bridge was removed in the summer of 2011.
This year has been quite a year for the 38-year-old franchise and its origins in Hope. A carving of John Rambo was installed at Memorial Park on Aug. 22, an event which made national and international news. Sylvester Stallone, the actor portraying the iconic character, even gave his approval for the carving, stating on social media that he was proud of the carving in an Instagram post that received over 400,000 likes.
Earlier this year, fans of Rambo said goodbye to the actor who played Rambo’s antagonist in First Blood. Brian Dennehy, who played Sheriff Will Teasle, was remembered as a cast member who spent a lot of time getting to know the community during the shooting of the film.
And fans of the film franchise continue to flock to the town where it began, both during anniversary events and throughout the year. People who stop in at Hope’s visitors centre ask about Rambo a lot, in fact it’s the second-most inquired about topic behind the Othello Tunnels.
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