For the past five years or so, the Dallas skyline has hosted a nightly light show. A rotating tribute to the Mavs might top Reunion Tower while Mick Jagger’s lips scroll across the facade of the Omni. Other nights, a theme carries from the Omni to Reunion Tower to Bank of America Plaza and beyond; on the Fourth of July, expect to see plenty of red, white, and blue occupying this sought-after real estate. A few individuals have the privilege of turning downtown high-rises into their personal Lite-Brites. We tracked them down and got answers to all of your frequently asked questions. To begin with: no, you can’t get “Marry me, Linda?” spelled out on the Omni. Sorry.
Q. Which downtown buildings are able to change their light colors?
A. The three that change most often are Reunion Tower, the Omni, and Bank of America Plaza. Others include Hunt Consolidated headquarters, One Arts Plaza, KPMG Plaza, and 17Seventeen McKinney.
Q. How often do they change designs?
A. Depends on the building. Pat Anderson, the light operator at the Omni, is dedicated, making sure the lights change 365 nights a year, even while he’s on vacation. He programs the lights to turn on at sunset, turn off at 2 am, come back on at 5:30 am, and shut off at sunrise. He can choose from hundreds of patterns and thousands of colors to create images or videos. The others’ frequency varies, partly because they don’t all have the same capabilities as the Omni.
Q. Do they work together?
A. Anderson will often reach out to his colleagues, or they will reach out to him, to plan for a special event. Adam Bernhardt and Billy Rowland, who are behind the lights for Bank of America, say that they usually do a concerted project about once every three months. They all agreed to turn purple for Dallas Innovates back in February. They collaborated to turn gold last fall for childhood cancer awareness. Once a few buildings get on board, it’s more likely all of them will join in. In some cases, they are approached by the city of Dallas to ensure they are coordinating on a large event.
Q. What other displays have the light makers come up with?
A. Reunion Tower often changes when the Mavs, Rangers, or Stars win, and pays tribute to Dallas heroes like real estate legend Ebby Halliday, using her signature red after she died, in September. But they also think globally while acting locally. Bank of America donned the black, red, and gold of the German flag after the last World Cup. The Omni flew the South African flag upon Nelson Mandela’s death, raised the French flag after the November bombings in Paris, and wrote “Nonstop Love” after the Wright Amendment ran out. Hunt changes up its color scheme to reflect holidays or big events.
Q. Is there a secret Light Club whose members go to dark bars to drink beer and compare awesome light plans on light design apps?
A. Unfortunately not. Although that sounds like—wait for it—a bright idea. Come on. We had to.
Q. I want to have “Happy Birthday” written in pink lights for my mom. How can I do that?
A. You can’t. The buildings get lots of requests from random people, and there would be no way to accommodate them all. Plus, that’s really more about you, isn’t it? Displays mainly stick to holidays, charitable organizations’ causes, and major events or happenings. Just get your mom a card.