Topsy the Clown – Reno, Nevada - Atlas Obscura

Topsy the Clown

This beloved roadside attraction welcomes visitors with his signature neon smile.  


Topsy the Clown has been in Reno since Circus Circus opened on July 1, 1978.  He’s hard to miss, as he’s no small clown—he stands 127 feet tall and weighs 44.8 tons.

Topsy was designed by Gordon Tietjen and manufactured by Young Electric Sign Company, YesCo. YesCo is known for their neon in the casino industry and its art can be seen across Nevada.

Time hasn’t always been kind to Topsy, and he once took quite a beating. On January 15, 1988, Reno was hit with a storm with wind gusts up to 94 miles per hour. These winds caused the Virginia Street area to be closed, as windows were being blown out and Topsy was losing parts of himself.  The city grew concerned that Topsy was going to be blown over. But fortunately, he stayed up during the storm.

Know Before You Go

Topsy the Clown is always visible. But as he is a neon clown, the best time to see him is when the sun is down. Pay attention to the lollipop in his hand.

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