As night descended on a memory-laden New York City on Sunday, September 11, 88 light cannons were powered up, shooting beams of light into the air representing the profiles of the original Twin Towers. We stopped by Saturday night, as crews were putting the finishing touches on the display and double checking that all the lights performed flawlessly, and the close-up result was nothing short of amazing.
The Tribute in Light display is perched atop a parking garage adjacent the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel, standing close to One World Trade Center, which itself was wrapped in red, white, and blue lights for the commemoration. On the garage roof, two twin 48-foot square rings of light projected four miles into the partially cloudy Saturday night sky, creating an aura of tranquility that brought to mind sitting in a great cathedral or perhaps superman’s lair. The only movement around the solid blue beacons were millions of circling insects drawn to the display’s beams, occasionally flying too close to the hot lights and catching fire, leaving small trails of smoke wafting from the tops of the cannons.
The twin beacons could be seen for miles around, up to 60 miles on a clear day, and we spotted them from several locations in Manhattan and Brooklyn. For the first time this year, Tribute in Light was powered entirely by biodiesel fuel, making the powerful light display not just a moving gesture but also a green one.
Now the Municipal Arts Society who sponsors the annual light show is hoping to make it financially sustainable as well and has launched a fundraising campaign to establish an endowment. Donations can be made online or an instant $10 can be donated by texting TRIBUTE to 20222.
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