It was a couple of minutes before 7 p.m. on a cool autumn night in downtown Owensboro.
The thermometer read 58 degrees.
One hundred or so people sat in Smothers Park near the RiverPark Center or leaned against the fence overlooking the Ohio River, watching the Glover H. Cary Bridge.
Some were holding their cameras up, waiting.
Suddenly, cheers went up.
The 80-year-old steel structure had come alive with color — red, then blue, orange and red, purple and then a mixture of colors.
“They’re beautiful,” Caroline Wedding of Maceo exclaimed. “That’s gorgeous. Wow. That’s a lot prettier than I thought it would be.”
The city spent $1.9 million on the LED system of 512 light fixtures that are expected to last at least 20 years without having to be replaced.
“Some people are going to complain about the cost,” John Boggess of Owensboro said. “But it’s a bargain whatever it cost. It’s wonderful. It’s fantastic.”
“It’s great,” Commonwealth’s Attorney Bruce Kuegel said. “I never would have thought it would be something like that. It’s something to be proud of.”
Rodel Pearson came over from Hatfield, Indiana, to watch the bridge lighting after his wife told him about it.
“I love it,” he said. “It’s awesome. It’s the best thing Owensboro has ever done. It’s very exciting.”
Bumper-to-bumper traffic on Veterans Boulevard came to a standstill as people watched, put their windows down and snapped photos with their cameras.
The city had planned a three-hour celebration with music, fireworks and a chance for people to walk across the bridge.
And then the coronavirus pandemic started getting worse and the city moved into the red zone.
So, the city moved the lighting to a live streamed event on its website — owensboro.org.
But some people wanted to see it in person.
And they headed for Smothers Park.
Tim Ross, the city’s public events director, said the lights will be on every night so people can come to see them.
Several people said they planned to bring friends and family down to see the lights.
City officials say the lights can be programmed for holidays like Christmas and Independence Day.
Prior to the LEDs, the bridge’s steel structure was lit by pendant lights that were installed in 1995.
They were removed in 2013 for the repainting of the bridge.
Keith Lawrence 270-691-7301 email@example.com