Who lights up the Kansas City skyline?

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Image credit above: Considered a leader in downtown lighting circles, Union Station LED lights allow the building to take on any color. (Contribution | Union Station / Kentadh Photography)

If you’ve ever wondered about the lighting of the Kansas City skyline, you’re not alone.

Curious and intrigued KC reader Paula Schumacher sought to learn more about downtown luminaires, which are often coordinated based on vacation, a common cause, or support for local sports teams.

Coordinating the colors of structures such as the Power & Light Building, T-Mobile Center, Union Station, Bartle Hall, and many properties in between seems to be quite an important job indeed.

It makes sense that Schumacher would want to know: who is responsible here?

Who flips the switch?

Imagine pulling the curtain back to reveal the Great Oz… to find no one there.

That’s right, not only is there not a single person in charge of the Kansas City skyline colors, there is no designated email address, phone number or application form. for anyone interested in presenting a horizon palette.

Forget it, even a carrier pigeon wouldn’t know which building to land on.

“There’s no downtown skyline lights office,” said Chris Hernandez, communications director for the Kansas City director’s office, before patiently describing managers’ ad hoc coordination efforts. of individual buildings and business owners with lumens to lend across town.

If there’s anyone close to a coordinator-type role in the process, according to Hernandez, it’s Mike Hurd, Marketing Director for the Downtown Council.

Aside from the obvious (i.e. vacations, championship-related teams), Hurd passes specific dates and colors to the city’s building and facility operators, as well as a few notes on the opportunity in case social media managers want to have some fun.

Hernandez said rather improvised details – between an unknown number of building and facility operators – with lights capable of coordinating colors are usually delivered in an email thread.

Sometimes specific buildings will submit a request based on an event that a company is hosting or something like that. But there is no requirement for buildings with the ability to coordinate colors to do so.

“We try to work together because it looks so beautiful and we are all very proud of the city,” Hernandez said.

Growing City of Light

While the Kansas City lights aren’t up there with Las Vegas or Times Square, the cityscape has come a long way in the past decade.

Beautification of the city with light was once the responsibility of the Downtown Marriott Hotel’s famous southern exposure, as well as the always-lit Power and Light Building, as well as the Bartle Hall pylons above Interstate 670.

But over the past decade, colorful changing lights have appeared in the city center. Hernandez credits cost-effective, customizable LED technology and group leaders like Union Station, which has embraced the concept when it comes to some of the city’s most beautiful moments.

“This allows the station to participate in community moments of celebration and recognition,” said Michael Tritt, director of marketing for Union Station.

Union Station first lit up in 2012 ahead of the Major League Baseball All-Star game at Kauffman Stadium, according to a 2019 article by In Kansas City on the city lights which are gaining in popularity.

Since then, Union Station has celebrated the Chiefs and Royals, turned pink for cancer awareness, and paid tribute to University of Missouri-Kansas City Roos graduates, to name a few.

“Everything just got more theatrical,” Union Station CEO George Guastello told Bob Luder of In Kansas City.

“We can take a building and turn it into a story and emotions that make people feel good…”

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