Downtown Indy launches new Circle light show to express hope during pandemic

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Using a multimillion-dollar system installed on Monument Circle last year to produce a patriotic light show, Downtown Indy Inc. this week launched a different presentation—this one designed to express hope and encourage global unity during the coronavirus pandemic.

Downtown Indy enlisted two Indianapolis Symphony Orchestra musicians—trumpet player Conrad Jones and bass trombone player Riley Giampaolo—to perform Simon and Garfunkel’s “Bridge over Troubled Water” for the production.

After several hours of practice, the two musicians recorded the song together, but from different locations to maintain the social distancing mandate put forward this week by government leaders. Downtown Indy officials said people who watch the production online can see the musicians simultaneously record the song.

As the song plays, a heart projected on the Indianapolis Power & Light building pulsates and changes size and color while images of the globe and various countries are projected on the Circle Tower building. Both building are on the southeast quadrant of the Circle.

The production was put together in less than a week.

“The technology installed allowed us to respond quickly and creatively with this message of hope,” said Bob Schultz, senior vice president of marketing and events for Downtown Indy.”

Schultz said marketing company Innovative and event production firm Dodd Technologies helped Downtown Indy design and upload the program in a few days.

“We started discussing this last Friday, and testing started Sunday and Monday night. It ran for first time Tuesday night,” Schultz said.

Downtown Indy hadn’t planned to change programs until May for Indy 500-related events, but felt it was needed during the world health crisis.

“We thought we needed to do something now,” Schultz said. “We wanted a song that conveyed hope and came up with “A Bridge over Troubled Water.”

Organizers also considered using Bob Marley’s “One Love,” but felt the song might promote hand-holding, which is being discouraged in a time of social distancing.

Downtown Indy kept the production short, about two minutes, intentionally. The organization didn’t want a production where people gathered downtown and stood in close proximity for long periods of time.

The light display will be on continuously from 9 p.m. to midnight. Downtown Indy isn’t encouraging people to visit the Circle to watch it unless they are downtown residents and are out for a walk to get some fresh air.

The music can only be heard online, and Downtown Indy is hopeful people will watch it on the Downtown Indy web site until the stay-at-home mandate is eased.

It hasn’t been determined how long the production will be shown.

“We’re taking this in 14-day increments,” Schultz said. “Something like this will be presented in some format until there’s not a need for it. Then maybe we’ll transition to a celebratory message.”

Schultz said the message—like the pandemic—reaches far beyond Indianapolis.

“This production isn’t just about us here, this is about a world traversing troubled waters,” Schultz said. “We think it’s a simple, yet powerful message. This is a message of love to the world and united we stand. We wanted to keep it simple and connect as many people as possible to that message.”

City officials and local leaders had been contemplating installing high-tech equipment on Monument Circle to do a massive light and music show since 2007. With a sizable grant for the Lilly Endowment, the idea became reality last year. The first show was called “Shining a Light,” and it debuted in November. The idea is to change the show periodically to coincide with special events and historical milestones.

“We envisioned using this to commemorate a lot of things,” Schultz said. “Of course, we never envisioned a global pandemic.”

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