By Barrett Seaman—
Most rivertown residents are aware that on certain holidays (e.g. Christmas, Fourth of July), the New York Thruway Authority (NYSTA) shows it has a fun side by lighting up the stanchions on the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge: Santa Claus red for Christmas; patriot red, white and blue for The Fourth). But few recognize just how often this happens—and hardly anyone knows that anyone can apply to have the bridge lit up in honor of…something. This has been possible since last April.
Before you get carried away with the prospect of having this three-and-a-half mile span bathed in Kelly Green in honor of your Uncle Sean’s 75th birthday, you should know two things:
First, they don’t grant these requests for just anybody. “Applications to light the bridge for personal events such as birthdays and anniversaries are typically not considered,” states the guideline on the Thruway Authority web site, “except in very special cases, for example when the individual in question has had a significant or long-standing positive impact on local communities.” So if Uncle Sean found the cure for cancer or donated a new theater in town, you might have a shot.
All the nationally celebrated public and religious holidays are already on the calendar, but daughter Cassidy’s bat mitzvah or a gender reveal announcement will be rejected out of hand. And by the way, if you apply, you will only hear back if your request is approved, so don’t hang around by the phone all day.
No political organizations or candidates can win approval; no businesses—even Regeneron (unless they find a cure for cancer)—will be considered.
On the other hand, asserts the NYSTA, “non-profits, municipalities and school districts in the vicinity of the bridge will be given priority/special consideration.” So when Irvington celebrated its 150th anniversary as a village last October, the bridge turned Bulldog Green for the night. Graduations at Sleepy Hollow and Nyack High Schools warrant an illumination every year.
Charitable organizations go to the front of the line. Feeding Westchester, Volunteer New York and Gilda’s Club each get a night of recognition.
While most of the lighting occasions are pre-scheduled, the Governor will on occasion order the bridge and a host of other New York State landmarks to be lit up. So it was on December 21, when Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy addressed a joint session of Congress, the Mario M. Cuomo Bridge was aglow in the blue and yellow of his nation’s flag.
The web site isn’t clear as to exactly what colors are available, but they do have pink (part of the Pride celebration palette), purple, used in honor or Suicide Prevention Week and orange, used last year for Hunger Action Month..
Second, with so many religious holidays plus secular holidays, even a highly qualified private request might not be able to find a slot on the bridge calendar. Just have a look at this schedule:
One piece of good news: if you can get on the calendar, it’s on the house. Mind your Ps and Qs though. “The New York State Thruway Authority (NYSTA) has the sole discretion to reject a request for any reason…to cancel any approved request…or to reject a request for any reason.” That should about cover it.