MANITOWOC, WI – Rising high over the flatland at the mouth of the Manitowoc River as it flows into Lake Michigan, the Briess Grain Tower has served a familiar landmark for sailors and townspeople for generations. On the night of Friday April 10, the venerable structure offered another kind of hope and reassurance. From 7:45 to 11 pm, it glowed brilliantly in blue against the clear, dark sky as a show of solidarity and support for the healthcare workers and front-liners who have stood as tall as any tower during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Local businesses, The Wharf Manitowoc, Powerhouse Productions, LLC and Brennan Seehafer Productions, came up with the idea of lighting the tower, along with another landmark, the decommissioned WWII submarine, USS Cobia, to honor these too-often-unsung heroes.
“They are making great sacrifices to ensure that things continue to function during the pandemic, and this is a way for our community to say thanks,” said Brennan Seehafer, who owns The Wharf Manitowoc, a popular seasonal music venue next to the grain tower.
Providing the richly colored light for the display was a collection of CHAUVET Professional Rogue fixtures supplied by Powerhouse Productions. Brandon Zinn, owner of the lighting company, used four Rogue R2X Beam and six Rogue R2X Wash fixtures to achieve the powerfully moving effect.
Zinn positioned the six wash units on the ground about 75-feet from the tower, arranging them so each side of the structure was bathed in light. To light the submarine, he relied on the four beam fixtures, positioned across the river from the vessel, about 300-feet away. In both cases, the fixtures had ample throw distance to do the job.
“The two things that stand out to me about the Rogues are their versatility and power,” said Zinn. “When we went to light the submarine, I was a little worried about the blue showing up against the dark vessel. Using the blue with a frost filter and prism, I worried that it might not be super impressive with all the filters. But once we did that shot across the river the units completely impressed me.”
Both 27-year old business owners, Seehafer and Zinn say that they feel like the workers they honored make them optimistic about the future. “The selfless healthcare workers who are on the frontlines are true heroes, so are all the first responders, and truckers,” remarked Seehafer. “The act of lighting up a city in blue is a small, but highly visible, way to express our thanks for what they’re doing to ensure that all of us have a brighter tomorrow.”
According to the experts, the name Manitowoc is derived from the Native American term for “dwelling of the Great Spirit.” The name seems very appropriate for the spirit that was on display in this tightknit community on this clear April night.