- June 8, 2022
The lighting system on Ringling Bridge will get a workout in the next year after a decision this week by the City Commission to mark additional special occasions with the span’s flexible lighting system.
Monday’s decision to choose specific holidays and other occasions matched with specific color schemes dates back to June 2021, when Florida Department of Transportation initially rejected, then approved, the city’s request for rainbow-colored lights to honor Pride Month.
Following the pushback from the city’s LGBTQ community, FDOT relented and allowed the lights and prompted deeper discussions at the city level on what other holidays and occasions should be honored with the bridge’s LED system.
On Monday, commissioners adopted a plan for the remainder of the year.
City Manager Marlon Brown told commissioners that seven days would be the maximum display time, even if the period being honored was longer than a week.
At least three commissioners chose a total of 22 events. They also chose to set aside Animal Abuse Awareness Day, Valentine’s Day, Hispanic Heritage Month, Cancer Awareness Day and Hanukkah in discussions on Monday.
Kwanzaa was added to FDOT’s holidays category, which also includes Christmas, from Dec. 25-31. The bridge will be illuminated in white for that period.
"One thing I would rather see Christmas red and green, in my opinion, rather than white," Commissioner Hagen Brody said.
Hanukkah was also added in consultation with the Sarasota area’s Jewish community as a standalone lighting period in the beginning of December.
"We have a number of pillars and columns on the bridge, and there is a scheme that would illuminate a pillar for each night," Brody said, adding there was initially some confusion about whether such a thing was possible, but he said FDOT had cleared that up. “They reassured us it was no issue whatsoever. We have that in writing.”
Vice Mayor Kyle Battie recommended shifting from Breast Cancer Awareness Month to a broader Cancer Awareness Day on Feb. 4.
The final list of days or weeks to be honored: