The Lights of Seattle’s Great Wheel

Seattle's Great Wheel, candy canes during holidays

Seattle’s Great Wheel, candy canes during holidays

Seattle’s Great Wheel greets residents and visitors every night in a dazzling salute. There are 500,000 LED lights embellishing this ferris wheel, adorning the skyline for miles.


Perched on the shoreline at Pier 57, it stands 175 feet (53.3 m) high, and extends 40 feet (12.2 m) over the waters of Elliott Bay.


The Seattle Great Wheel

Photo courtesy Wikipedia

The ferris wheel is open for riding year round and in all weather, click here.


There is one man who lights up the Wheel:  Gerry Hall. He is in charge of the lights, including repairing broken ones (they repel down the ferris wheel).


While his job title is General Manager, and light displays were not originally under the job description, he took an interest in the lights and started programming designs as a hobby. He creates the mesmerizing light design from his laptop in his living room.


Seattle and the Puget Sound

Seattle and the Puget Sound

The displays have become more sophisticated and elaborate over the four years since the Wheel was constructed, with flashing, swirling, and even messages. There are holiday themes, like the candy canes pictured here, and other Seattle-based themes.


Home football light shows are a big hit, including a recent time-lapsed spelling of S-e-a-h-a-w-k-s, proud Seattle’s National Football League team. Just last week I was watching a Seahawks game when they showed the Great Wheel radiating blue and green (team colors) with a flashing football spinning in the center.


More images here.


He receives requests of all kinds, and in a recent interview said that “gender reveals” are a current favorite. Couples expecting a baby who do not know the gender yet, stand in view of the Wheel. Their doctor or friend find out the gender, call it in to Mr. Hall, and pink or blue flashes up for the expecting couple.

Image result for seattle great wheel ferris wheel images

Photo: Geoff Vlcek, Courtesy My Modern Met

I once arrived in Seattle by boat at night, having come from Victoria. Glowing purple lights adorned the entire Wheel, bejeweling the waters below.


It was a passionate greeting saying, “Welcome to this spirited city.”


Photo credit: Athena Alexander unless otherwise specified.


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Blaring Red Trumpets

Chihuly glass sculpture

Chihuly Trumpet sculpture (Space Needle in the upper left corner)

This robust sculpture resides in Seattle, at the base of the Space Needle.  A tower of scarlet glass trumpets, it stands over six feet tall, at Chihuly Garden and Glass.


The artist, Dale Chihuly, was born in Tacoma and has spent many years in the Pacific Northwest.  The entire exhibit is a permanent collection, displayed indoors and out.


I spent a wet and rainy day at the museum in Seattle last year, and it lit up the gloom in the most extraordinary way.  The garish colors, colossal sculptures, and outrageous creativity are a true indoor marvel.  Then you go outdoors, and more brilliance awaits.  Info here.


Outside there is a refreshingly unique garden studded with glass plants and this sculpture, an edifice of glaring red blaring trumpets.  Click here for more of Athena’s photos of the Chihuly Garden exhibit, part of a series I wrote.


What I like most about this wild, one-eyed sculptor and his art is his message:  be bold, be brave.

Photo credit:  Athena Alexander


Chihuly Photos, Series 4 of 4

Chihuly Collections Cafe

Chihuly Collections Cafe

A restaurant filled with hanging accordions!  Today is the last of the Chihuly series, featuring the Collections Cafe.  All this week I have been sharing the Chihuly Garden and Glass exhibit that I had the opportunity to visit in Seattle over the recent holidays.

This is the restaurant inside the museum.  I would not have been inclined to go in (it’s not very noticeable from inside the museum) except that a friend at the Christmas party, a Seattle resident, told us about the innovative displays and delicious food.

Dave Chihuly has extensive collections of things that reside inside this Cafe.  The biggest and most bold of the collections consists of two or three dozen vintage accordions.  They all hang down from the ceiling, high above the diners who sit at the tables enjoying the exquisite cuisine.  That is what’s in this photo.

When you first walk toward the long and narrow restaurant, a wall of hundreds of bottle openers greets you.  They’re from college days and other places along his path.  We were seated at one of the far-back tables so we had the opportunity to walk the entire length of the restaurant and view all the collections.

Chihuly Collections Radios

Chihuly Collections Radios

On one wall are dozens of colorful antique radios in a shelved display.  Other interesting collections are displayed in the tables.  Many of the dining tables are a display case built underneath the glass tabletop.  Displayed inside the table were many small articles, neatly displayed, with a whimsical and colorful theme.  There were Christmas decorations at one table, transistor radios at another, small cameras, old tin toys, shaving brushes–all displayed in these table cases.  But there was only so long you could hover over some poor stranger’s Brie and Pear Ravioli to study the collection in their table, ha.

It was a dark and rainy day and even though there were large windows to the outdoors, by 3 pm it started to get darker.  That was when I could take my eyes off the collections and enjoy the brightly-lit wall of his drawings.  The theme of the entire exhibit echoed here in the restaurant too in the form of a back-lit wall  (see left side of first photo) of 36 drawings.  The riotous colors and unique designs of Dale Chihuly’s drawings came alive.

I hope you enjoyed the tour as much as I enjoyed showing you around.  I’ve received comments during the week from many people all over the world who relayed their experiences and glowing reviews of Chihuly exhibits they had visited.  This makes me smile.  It’s always great to witness appreciation and reverence for a brilliant artist living in our time.

[All photographs in this series courtesy of Athena Alexander; no reproduction or usage without permission.]