My folks were visiting us in early December and as we stood on the Monroe Street bridges, admiring the beauty and thunder of the Spokane River waterfalls, my Dad asked whether anyone had ever thought of creating a colorful light display to illuminate the falls at night. I told him that I'd not heard anyone bring it up before, but that it was a great idea. In Chicago, my hometown, crowds are drawn to the colorful changing light display that shows off Buckingham Fountain (Google it) in Grant Park. The Grand Coulee Dam's light show is a big tourist attraction. I'll bet some imaginative light-artists could design an impressive display that would add a whole new dimension to the falls at night, and possibly make at least that section of Riverfront Park a safer, more family-friendly place at the same time. Above the falls? Along side the falls? Under the falls? Just imagine the possibilities!
One presumes they'd prefer to be presented with a preliminary plan, containing as much specific data as possible. Perhaps an ad hoc committee of interested parties would pick up the ball and discuss options. For instance, the best vantage points for viewing the falls are near the historic Washington Water Power generator/plant. Avista would need to be involved to power the lights; they'd be an obvious project partner. The project has great promotional potential as well, not the least of which would be naming rights.
Avista reps + a team of creative and marketing professionals from local ad agencies/marketing/PR firms + interested owners of downtown businesses or destinations proximate to the falls (e.g., Anthony's, Clinkerdagger, Riverfront Park attractions) could collaborate on the possibilities and come up with a proposal for the City Council.
Multiple shows with both area lighting and laser lighting. Imagine telling tales of both the past and the future with lights. Good PR for the city and those providing the resources that make it happen. Better still, if the system is designed right, adding new shows could be a lot easier.
I seem to recall that the colored lights for Grand Coulee Dam are only on during the beginning of the show. Many moons ago, when I first saw the Grand Coulee Dam light show, they were the only lights. Lasers were just a toy then.
That makes two. Mount Rushmore might have something similar. Ditto the Crazy Horse monument. I suspect that there are a few dozen, found in areas that have impressive landscapes and/or monumental structures.
A light show of that sort in Spokane could emphasize the 'Near nature. Near perfect.' tag line of the city that put on the first environmental themed World's Fair.
I have no clue if/when/where/how this could work, but wouldn't it be cool if the local kids/schools could take part by making these candles in class and they could be launched without any hazard? Maybe they could be tied on ropes across the river to prevent accidental fire.
This would also not use any electricity so would work with the city's go green initiatives, while adding an intimate or zen feel to the scene. It might not satisfy the original goal, but it would be neat for some annual event(s).
We would have to check how fast the river flows, even in places that seem calm like around the Opera House.
It would be interesting to have tie-ins to events like Japan Week though. One of the things I like about Spokane is all of the special events that seem to start around April and continue until mid-September.
I could imagine there being seasonal light shows, special event light shows, historical light shows and, with the right setup, light show competitions. And if these light shows could be coordinated with other events, we might have yet another reason to go downtown.
We would also have something that could advertise Spokane on things like YouTube.
I'd love to see a permanent display with plenty of opportunities for seasonal/promotional variants. With the right approach, hotels with rooms facing the falls would be able to add the lights as another selling point for those rooms. Seems to me there would be plenty of great opportunities for sponsorships or corporate tie-ins with the hotels and adjacent restaurants, perhaps some of the high-rise residential communities along the river, and any number of retail or commercial businesses in the vicinity of the falls. Could be a huge asset in terms of drawing pedestrian traffic. And, yes, the opportunity to showcase Spokane on YouTube and elsewhere would be considerable.
I went on a photo expedition this week end, a long loop that ended up at Grand Coulee Dam, where I got a look at the hardware the dam uses for the light shows. Along the shore there is a large bank of flood lights that, last time I heard, is only used at the start of the light show. In the visitor's center there is a bank of four large lasers with a control rack behind it. Interesting stuff. Expensive too.
Doing a visual survey of the falls and surrounding area, and then using that to create a proof of concept using PhotoShop or other graphics program, might be a good starting point.
I could see this being a light show venue in 3D, where you would want to see it multiple times from different locations, unlike Grand Coulee.
I was downtown for the Lilac Parade on Saturday. As one of the people marching, I get a different look at the parade and the number of people who are willing to go downtown for the right events.
It would be interesting to have something that could attract a crowd a tenth that size every few weeks in the area around the river and the falls. A light show could help, especially if it changed frequently and was coordinated with other events. It would be even better if said light show were programmable by local artists.
Ideally this would be something that could provide infill events year round so that downtown becomes a major destination for locals and tourists.