With teardown of racetrack, Arlington Heights' horse head logo reaches its finish line

As the final buildings at Arlington Park meet the wrecking ball, Arlington Heights' long-standing horse head village logo is also being put out to pasture.

Village officials this spring plan to formally unveil their new municipal logo: a blue letter "A" in classic serif font overlaying a circular tan background, enclosed by "Village of Arlington Heights IL Inc. 1887" typed over burgundy.

The old logo with similar color scheme, featuring a horse's head in the shape of the letter A, has been in place since 1959.

A vestige of the horse head will remain, however, in the village seal, which is embossed on legal documents stamped by the village clerk.

"We saw no reason to really change the village seal because it's used on a very limited, legalistic basis," said Village Manager Randy Recklaus.

A separate "Take It To The Heights!" marketing tagline and logo to promote tourism and business - replacing the decades-old "Discover Arlington" messaging - will appear online, on flyers and banners, and in radio advertisements this month.

Officials launched the rebranding initiative in early 2020 when the racetrack was still open, but amid the track's September 2021 closure, it became evident any nod to horse racing wouldn't remain.

That doesn't mean village officials plan to incorporate any other type of animal in their official governmental brand, despite the Chicago Bears' purchase of the 326-acre property in February.

"At some point in time I also thought that we talked about, 'Well, maybe this would be a compromise on a short-term basis until we see how the property at Arlington Park was going to get (developed),' and then at that point in time maybe revisit this yet once again," said Trustee Jim Bertucci, who told Recklaus the new logo "still doesn't pop for me."

But Recklaus said it's intended to be the permanent organizational logo, noting it was difficult to get all nine village board members to agree on something so "stylistic."

Still, Bertucci and the eight others voted Monday night to authorize Recklaus' staff to start using the new logo as part of a phased rollout in March.

The discussion was relatively short late Monday, since it followed a series of one-on-one meetings with staff and trustees in recent months. It came after the board rejected consultant Springboard Brand & Creative Strategy's proposed design - an angled letter "A" stacked on top of the letter "H" - nearly a year ago.

In the end, Recklaus said he came to understand that board members weren't looking for a "dramatic" change in the symbol. So what resulted is a "subtle refresh," he said.

The logo will be placed on village letterhead and formal correspondence, flyers, signage, vehicle doors, website and social media.

It also will be centered on the village flag with an updated slogan: "The Village of Good Neighbors." The old phrase was "City of Good Neighbors," but Arlington Heights is legally defined as a village.

Trustee Robin LaBedz gave one of the last remaining village flags to Cook County during a municipal flag exchange ceremony last month. A ceremony with the new flag is planned in Arlington Heights next spring.

"I like the whole thing," LaBedz said. "You know it's Arlington Heights. It's not like some of the logos of some of the villages and cities that you have to really stare at it and think, 'What is this trying to tell me?' It was a long time coming."

Arlington Heights looks to 'refresh' logo, marketing; will a horse still be featured?

Arlington Heights' horse head logo stays put for now

Arlington Heights trustees reject new village logo, keeping old horse head design in place for now

Arlington Heights' horse head logo, in place since 1959, is being retired. Courtesy of Village of Arlington Heights
  This design for a new Arlington Heights village logo was rejected by the village board late last year. Christopher Placek/, 2022
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