Monday, May. 20th, 2019
Tuesday, May. 14th, 2019

Sculpture Tour 2019 Flows Into Downtown Eau Claire

Across the street from the North Barstow Parking Ramp on N. Barstow Street.
Across the street from the North Barstow Parking Ramp on N. Barstow Street.

The 2018 sculpture tour came down mid-April, making way for dozens of new works of art throughout downtown Eau Claire. Sculpture Tour Eau Claire placed 54 sculptures this year, making Eau Claire’s tour the second largest of its kind in the United States.

“For a city of this size to be able to support a tour of this size is phenomenal,” tour Executive Director Julie Pangallo said. This year, about a third of the artwork on display in the tour was created by regional or local artists.

“When I first started with the tour five years ago, we were trying to get to 10 percent local artists,” Pangallo said. “So we’ve been working really hard on trying to find local artists, and to cooperate with local artists to develop their work.”

Sculpture Tour Eau Claire collaborates with four other cities to host the annual summer event, selecting some of the art for each tour in a football-style draft from the partner network. Thanks to this partnership, Pangallo said, they can choose among the best of the best.

This year’s tour features a collaborative sculpture commissioned by tour partners Jamf and the RCU foundation, a playable xylophone in front of the Children’s Museum, and a dragon outside of Houligans Steak and Seafood Pub.

South side of the Barstow St. Bridge, across the street from Haymarket Landing
South side of the Barstow Street Bridge, across the street from Haymarket Landing.

Besides the increased number of local artists included in the tour, the organization has seen a number of new developments for 2019. Sculpture Tour Eau Claire is now housed in a permanent office space in the Brent Douglas Flowers building on 610 S Barstow St. The three best-in-show winners from 2018 will be placed on display in Haymarket Plaza upon its completion for the rest of 2019.

The people’s choice sculpture from 2018, “Salmon Runner” by Heather Wall, was purchased and given to the City of Eau Claire for permanent display on the RCU side of the Confluence Crossing bridge. The second and third place winners – a trio of humpty-dumpty jazz artists and an impressionistic work called “Yosemite,” – along with the first place winner, each won a $1,000 prize.

Voting for the 2019 sculpture tour will begin at the end of May and run through mid-September.

Sculpture Tour Eau Claire does not use tax dollars to produce each year’s tour, Pangallo said. “I think it’s really important for people to remember that this is done totally by public support, by businesses stepping up and saying they want this to happen.” For more information about this year’s tour, visit their website here.

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STORYLORDS: The Low-Budget Educational Sci-Fi Epic They Made at UW-Stout

Larry Laird as the evil Storylord Thorzuul, a caped, sunglasses-rocking villain, shown here in anguish. Image:
Actor Larry Laird as the evil Storylord Thorzuul, a caped, sunglasses-rocking villain, shown here in bitter anguish. (Image: Wisconsin Public Television Education)

Earlier this year, Wisconsin Public Radio took a deep dive into a public television show many of you have seen ... but perhaps only vaguely remember. Like all good epic adventures, PBS’s low-budget live-action educational show Storylords has passed into legend. But like Tolkien’s Ring of Power (“ wants to be found...”) the show has emerged from the obscurity of random remembrances to the slightly less obscure realm of YouTube, where it’s been racking up tens of thousands of views, presumably from people who grew up with it. The short-lived show was no Sesame Street or Magic School Bus, but it was still memorable ... in its own quirky way.

Storylords consists of twelve 15-minute programs, produced in 1984 and aired in the ’80s and ’90s. It focuses on building reading comprehension strategies through the use of fantasy storylines where a brother and sister are drafted into a secret magical battle spilling over from a different planet. As is the case in all battles betwixt good and evil, excellent reading skills are required to thwart the bad guys.

What many people who remember the show – even Chippewa Vallians – don’t realize is that it was produced at the University of Wisconsin–Stout.

The WPR piece does a fantastic job resurrecting the Storylords backstory, interviewing the show’s producers and, of course, the actors – such as  Tanya Tiffany who played the hero “Mandy.” And best of all, they talked with Larry Laird who played the show’s caped, sunglasses-rocking villain Thorzuul, who seeks to turn all those who can't understand what they read into stone statues.

Here’s what Storylords director and producer Ed Jakober told WPR about the production:

We had a local WPT production outlet here (in Menomonie). We were assigned most of the educational programming from ECB. That was based on whatever the need was in Wisconsin at the time. ... We spent two years on the program. The first year-and-a-half was spent on research, methodology, reading strategies and the educational process. Then, we hired writer Jed MacKay … He came up with the "Storylords" concept. 

We filmed around town, away from the studio ... Thorzuul's lair? OK let's go inside Mabel Tainter Theater or the library. We filmed at Menomonie East School — it still stands. All the kids would show up. We’d set up a wide shot in the classroom, then they'd go outside and play. After a while, we'd have them do lines. We'd do at least two (episodes) every day in the school.

As for the actors, all the extras we got from the UW-Stout theater department. The kids were just kids.

Listen to or read the story online:

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Thursday, May. 9th, 2019

Fire House Tavern in Downtown Eau Claire Sold

Becky and William Glass announced on The Fire House's Facebook page Thursday morning that Pablo Properties, an Eau Claire property investment company, will purchase The Fire House tavern (202 Gibson St, Eau Claire.)  The sale will be finalized sometime in May.

Becky, with the help of The Fire House staff, will help train Pablo Properties Food and Beverages Manager Ken Buell in on the workings of the establishment.  This arrangement will last several months, according to Julia Johnson, a Pablo Properties partner.

“We are super grateful that she’s staying on as the manager,” Buell said.  “She and the team are the experts on craft beer.”

Johnson and the Glass family have been “comparing notes on friendship, family, and business for years,” she said.  William and Becky’s post on Facebook said that the deal originated during a chat over one of their shared loves: beer.

This sale will bring a nearly decade-long ownership debacle involving the Glass’s, The Fire House, The Brewing Projekt, and the state of Wisconsin to a close.

William and Becky opened The Fire House in 2010. In 2014, Becky assumed full ownership of the business so that William could go on to open The Brewing Projekt.  However, a married couple can not legally own both a brewery and a bar, jointly or separately, in the state of Wisconsin.  

William has acted as Volunteer President of The Brewing Projekt since its opening, with his father, Bill, owning the business, in order to allow the two businesses to exist simultaneously.  

“The Fire House continues to hold its ground as life around Downtown Eau Claire springs up around it, and The Brewing Projekt has gone from a small brewing operation in a worn-down garage to a huge, modern taproom with increased brewing capacity,” the Facebook announcement, signed by Becky and William, reads. “But along with all that excitement and positivity, the spider web of ownership has grown from a minor inconvenience to a major interference in our lives.”

With the sale of The Fire House, William will take legal ownership of The Brewing Projekt.

“We’ve been huge admirers of The Fire House since its existence, and think of it as an honor to add it to what we do,” Johnson said.

"Today we’d like to take a moment to extend a heartfelt thank you to our Fire House family," William and Becky wrote. "those of you who have worked with us, sweat with us, laughed with us, cried with us, and drank beer with us. Without you, The Fire House would be four brick walls with beer inside, but with you, The Fire House has become much more."

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Monday, May. 6th, 2019

It’s great! It’s big! It’s the Hullabaloo!

Massive, all-new kids event to launch June 1 at the Pablo Center

The Great Big Hullabaloo will be a dynamic day of kid-centric and family-focused fun on Saturday, June 1, at the Pablo Center at the Confluence in Eau Claire. Expect an interactive whirlwind day of music, art, science, technology, theater, dance, and performances in 10 major spaces of the Pablo Center – all geared for creative, curious, community-loving kids and their grownups! The brand-new event is sponsored by Volume One, Chippewa Valley Family, and Associated Bank.

Pablo Center at the Confluence
Spanning 10 areas of the Pablo Center at the Confluence

No joke – we’re taking over the Pablo Center. At The Great Big Hullabaloo, children will discover an array of enriching experiences ranging from experimentation with the sounds of musical instruments to producing a community art masterpiece to dancing off energy in the “kid disco” to quiet moments with a scientific challenge and so much more – more than we can even fit on this page! Plus, a portion of all ticket proceeds go to support Big Brothers Big Sisters of Eau Claire.

Volunteer Opportunities »

Tickets are on Sale Now »

Here’s everything you need to know about this amazing new event, which is also sponsored by Mayo Clinic Health System, Larson Orthodontic Specialists and Marshfield Children’s Hospital:

Basic Info & Tickets

WHEN: Saturday June 1, 10am-4pm
WHERE: Pablo Center at the Confluence, 128 Graham Ave., Downtown Eau Claire
WHO: Families, kids, adults
  Kids (3-12): $7
  Adults (13+): $15
  Kids 2 and under – FREE

Note: All children under 18 must be accompanied by a paying adult.

Live Performances

A number of live performances are included with your ticket! The Great Big Hullabaloo will feature fantastic performances throughout the day ...

  • Jump into a hilarious science comedy show from celebrated performers In Capable Hands.
  • Watch a one-of-a-kind music video and performance by quirky kids performer Beth Jean.
  • Enjoy dance performances from the award-winning Diamond School of Dance.
  • Rock out at a Girls Rock Band performance (a band of local middle school and high school students).
  • Take in a performance from the talented Chippewa Valley Youth Chorus.
  • Get inspired by a showcase of kid stars from the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre.
  • Settle in for story time provided by area public libraries.
  • And don’t miss thrilling, roving performances from Weapons of Brass Destruction and the Memorial High School Band.

Five ‘Districts’ of Fun

The Great Big Hullabaloo will sprawl across five “districts” – large, special areas set up throughout the Pablo Center. If kids visit all five districts and get stamps on their special passport, they’ll get to choose a prize!


  • Belt out a big tune in the karaoke lounge.
  • Dance your butt off in the Kid Disco.
  • Visit the Instrument Petting Zoo and experiment with their sounds with help from the Eau Claire Music School and Memorial High School Orchestra.
  • Enjoy a mini music lesson with the Eau Claire Music School.
  • Craft your very own instrument with Blugold Beginnings.


  • Paint a picture by steering a robot around your canvas – with help from Blugold Beginnings.
  • Get creative with make-n-take projects from your local ArtMobile.
  • Pitch in on a community cardboard sculpture with amazing local artist Ray Kassaleu.
  • Keep it colorful as you paint on silk with local artist Erin O’Brien.
  • Build a birdhouse with your family (with help from 4H kids).
  • Create string art (with help from 4H kids).


  • Interact with green screen television tech from Valley Media Works.
  • Crash and zoom a Sphero Ball robot through an obstacle course*.
  • Test your smarts in a Lego Robotics battle*.
  • Spark your imagination as you experiment with circuits*.
    *Activities provided and run by Blugold Beginnings


  • Act it out with theater arts training from the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre and Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild.
  • Take a seat for a fun performance in the RCU Theatre.
  • Dress up in costumes from the Eau Claire Children’s Theatre and strike a pose in the photo booth courtesy of Laci Eberle Photography.


  • Dive into the Mayo Clinic Health System Gross-ology Exhibit.
  • Keep it healthy with a teddy bear check-up with Marshfield Clinic.
  • Conduct fascinating science experiments with the Children’s Museum of Eau Claire’s special “Let’s Do Chemistry” exhibit.
  • Work with magnets, prisms, and rainbows at Lilly Pad Lab’s “Science of Colors for Curious Kids” exhibit.
  • Make your own bouncy ball, bath bomb, or UV bracelet with Blugold Beginnings.

Even more activities and performances will be added soon!

Prizes and Make-and-Take Projects

Various activities at The Great Big Hullabaloo will allow kids to craft special items to keep. Plus, Marshfield Clinic will offer kids a Wellness Teddy Bear in their teddy bear check-up exhibit – while supplies last! Also ...

  • Make a rain stick with Blugold Beginnings.
  • Create a Sphero Ball painting with Blugold Beginnings.
  • Make a String Art piece on wood with 4H.
  • Build a bird house with 4H.
  • Create projects with the ArtMobile.
  • Craft a UV Bracelet, a Bath Bomb, or a Bouncy Ball with Blugold Beginnings.

Don’t miss the most dynamic day of kid-centric and family-focused fun to ever hit the Chippewa Valley! Learn more online at


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Friday, May. 3rd, 2019

Return of the Dragons: Annual Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival is all about fighting cancer

Five years ago, a new invasive species swam into Half Moon Lake. Forty feet long with brightly colored scales, it was sleek and swift with bulging eyes, flared nostrils and a toothy grin. The dragons of the lake had arrived in the Chippewa Valley as part of the inaugural Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival.

Raising money for cancer programs

Sponsored and hosted by Mayo Clinic Health System, the event initially raised money for hospice programs. Fast forward to 2018, and the fundraising focus switched to cancer programs and continues with this focus at this year’s event on Saturday, Aug. 3.

“We know there is a significant need for local cancer support service funding,” explains Renelle Laffe from Hope in the Valley, which is a Chippewa Valley-based nonprofit cancer advocacy organization. “Bringing the community together to support this need in a fun, deeply meaningful way is both powerful and healing.”

The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival is going strong as a joint partnership between Mayo Clinic Health System and Hope in the Valley. The mission and goals of this year’s event are to:

  • Fundraise for local cancer programs and services 

  • Educate on cancer prevention, research and healthy living 

  • Celebrate cancer survivors and those currently fighting the disease, and remember loved 
ones lost 

  • Provide a family-friendly event for the community to enjoy 

Half of the proceeds will benefit the Albert J. and Judith A. Dunlap Cancer Center at Mayo Clinic Health System in Eau Claire, and half will benefit local cancer service organizations and charity care. The proceeds will be given in person on the Day of Giving Hope, which is Dec. 2. 

Why dragon boat racing? 

Equal parts sporting event and spectacle, dragon boat racing is a team sport that has its roots in ancient China. In the last 30 years, dragon boat racing has been revitalized and is one of the fastest growing water sports in the world. Each brightly colored dragon boat is propelled by a crew of 20 paddlers, a drummer and steer person working together as a team to finish the race. 

In addition to the excitement of watching and cheering for the dragon boats as they race to the finish line, the festival also includes music and a variety of tasty food vendors to enjoy. The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival is a high-energy, fun-filled day — proven by being voted the Best 
Sports/Recreation Event (non-run/walk) in Volume One’s Best of the Chippewa Valley Reader Poll three years in a row.

But don’t take our word for it. Check out the hype and fun for yourself. Register a team to paddle, sign up to volunteer or attend as a spectator. The Half Moon Dragon Boat Festival will be held Saturday, Aug. 3 at Half Moon Beach. More information is available at

This post was produced through a partnership
with Mayo Clinic Health System ... Learn more!

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Will UW-Eau Claire Grad Be the First First Gentleman?

Chasten Buttigieg (left) on the cover of TIME Magazine (May 13) with husband and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg.
Chasten Buttigieg (left) on the cover of TIME Magazine (May 13) with husband and Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg.

America’s potential first first gentleman is a Blugold.

Chasten Buttigieg – husband of Democratic presidential hopeful Pete Buttigieg (if you’re curious, it’s pronounced “Boot-edge-edge”) – graduated from UW-Eau Claire in December 2014 with a bachelor’s degree in theatre arts. His husband, the mayor of South Bend, Indiana, has been moving toward the top of a crowded field of candidates for the 2020 Democratic nomination that includes well-known political veterans like Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden. But Pete Buttigieg has made a big splash in recent weeks, drawing attention both for his policy proposals and personal story: Harvard and Oxford graduate, Afghan War veteran, millennial mayor, and now the first prominent gay presidential candidate in U.S. history.

Chasten (that’s “Chas-Ten”), 29, has been right beside “Mayor Pete,” literally and figuratively, sharing the podium with him when he officially launched his candidate April 14 and posing with him for the cover of the latest issue of Time Magazine.

“Chasten’s humor and openness have been his defining features since the national spotlight found him and ‘Mayor Pete’ earlier this year,” Ellen McCarthy wrote in a recent Washington Post profile article. “It has made him a force on Twitter, where he has more than 300,000 followers, and a not-so-secret public-relations weapon for his husband.”

Chasten and Pete Buttigieg meeting former US President Jimmy Carter last year. (Image: Twitter)
Chasten and Pete Buttigieg meeting former US President Jimmy Carter last year. (Image: Twitter)

The former Chasten Glenzman grew up in a working-class family in Traverse City, Michigan. According to the Washington Post profile, he loved theater and struggled with his sexuality as an adolescent, at one point moving out of the house and sleeping in his car. He later reconciled with his parents. “Eventually, they would proudly walk him down the aisle at his wedding to another man,” the Post noted.

Chasten and Pete married in June 2018 at an Anglican Church in South Bend, Indiana. They had met in 2015 through a dating app. The previous year, Chasten had graduated from UW-Eau Claire, where he studied theatre arts and global studies. After graduation, he moved to Milwaukee, where he worked at a youth theater academy and at Starbucks. Later, according to the Indianapolis Star, he earned a master’s degree at DePaul University in Chicago before teaching at a Montessori school in South Bend.

These days, Chasten is spending his days on the campaign trail, literally and digitally. As Elle magazine noted in March, “Chasten Buttigieg’s Relentlessly Cheery Twitter Is the Best Thing to Come Out of the 2020 Election.” Chasten’s timeline is filled with pictures of the couple’s rescue dogs (Buddy and Truman), “Game of Thrones” memes, and musings about the bizarre side of political/Internet fame. A sample tweet: “This new exposure can be very weird, and I’m not sure if I’ll ever get used to teenagers taking pictures of me and then running away giggling when I look up and see them pointing their phones at me. This is why I can no longer smell deodorants at Target. They’re always watching.”

However, as the Washington Post noted, “it’s a pressure-filled role, even for a former drama kid. ‘There’s so much more on the line than, “Man, I don’t want to forget a line and mess up the show,” ’ Chasten says. ‘It’s like, “Oh, I don’t want to say the wrong thing and ruin my husband’s political career.” ’ ”

In the coming 18 months, that pressure will undoubtedly mount, but that career could take the couple all the way to the White House.

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Friday, Apr. 19th, 2019

Infamous “Walmart House” FINALLY Hits the Market

Above: $2,500,000
Above: $2,500,000

Looks like that old, single-story brick house standing in front of Walmart on Eau Claire’s southeast side (3801 Gateway Drive) is FINALLY up for sale (see listing). A noble holdout from when the area was developed decades ago, the house has inspired comparisons to the iconic property which may have inspired the movie Up! 

The home was occupied for many years by a single owner – a local woman who stood her ground against swelling development as she refused to sell. She passed away last fall.

It's sad to see such a remarkable local resident pass, but hey, if you’ve got a mere $2,500,000 on hand, your dream home awaits. It's been on the market since mid-April. So, you know ... act now.

Sure, the property listing seems geared toward developers looking to install a Kwik Trip or a Taco Bell or a Dunkin’ Donuts or a mattress store. But don’t let that stop you, Potential Homeowner.

In a house like this you can let the gentle woosh of nearby U.S. Highway 53 lull you to sleep each night. All night. And all day. The irregular, 2.3 acre lot will surely attract new parents. Imagine the amazing games of hide-n-seek your kids will have in the adjacent parking lot(s).

Great for romping.
Great for romping.

According to the scant listing, the 1,064 square foot structure is built upon a block foundation and includes a full basement. Additional interior features include “restrooms.” Plural.

Yes, it’s a bit of a fixer-upper and taxes last year came in at $9,651, and your estimated monthly payment is $11,163, but who can put a price on convenience? Not us. In a home like this, you’d literally be a hop, a skip, a jump, and a short stroll from the front doors of the world’s largest big box retailer. And Sam’s Club. And Petco. And Kohl’s. And Fazoli’s.

And right across the street you’ve got the neighborhood Best Buy, Office Max, and T.J. Maxx. All the best Max’s are right there – if you’re agile enough to sprint across a U.S. Highway and scale at least one chain link fence.

The property lies within the Eau Claire School District.

Also: detached garage.
Also: detached garage.

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Wednesday, Apr. 17th, 2019

Watch Local Tiny Desk Concerts from Converge Radio

Check out the press release from Converge Radio 99.9 FM on the great videos they produced for National Public Radio's Tiny Desk Contest ...

EAU CLAIRE, WISCONSIN – April 16, 2019– Converge Radio 99.9 FM is proud to present the National Public Radio (NPR) Tiny Desk Contest featuring talented artists from Wisconsin and Minnesota.

Since its launch in 2008, hundreds of performances have been recorded by artists for the Tiny Desk Contest. 

Tiny Desk Contest is the creative concept of NPR Music host Bob Boilen, where he invites the winners– a diversity of guest artists to perform in his festive workspace adorned with years of music mementos and memorabilia. 

The series has provided a welcoming stage for artists at all points in their career and from across the music genre spectrum.

The winner of the contest will go to NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C. to play their very own Tiny Desk Concert.  In the summer of 2019, the winner will go on a tour of the U.S. with NPR Music.

The team at Converge Radio 99.9FM has produced, directed and edited the music videos for the 23 talented artists from the state of Wisconsin.

Each video presentation features a song that is the entrant’s original work.

Meet the Artists:

Billy Krause
Caitlin McGarvey*
D. Janakey
Davey J
Greg Gilbertson
Histrionic Creature
Howard "Guitar" Luedtke
Jim Pullman
Loi!L Pride
Miles Blvd
Olive Sings
Past & The Present
The Outlaw Renegades
The Third Ward*
Travis Lee

* Artist is UWEC Student

Converge Radio 99.9FM, has created a unique, artistic set (including a tiny desk!), where the 23 music videos were produced, located at The Venue, at 209 Graham Avenue in downtown Eau Claire, Wisconsin. 

The Venue is owned by Benny Haas, who is known in the community and a champion of the music and cultural scene in Eau Claire.

You can see all of these talented artists perform for the NPR Tiny Desk here: 

The Judging Period begins on April 15, 2019, and ends on or about May 10, 2019. More:


Cinematographer – Sarah Ferraro (20 bands)*
Assistant Cinematographer - Eli Klatt (3 bands)* 
Set Design – Karen Wells Verlander
Live Audio Engineers – Brent Kuechenmeister, Brad Murphy*, Alex Stadtlander*
Audio Mixing – Scott Morfitt, Evan Middlesworth, Justin Andersen, Neal Sipress, Kyle Culver
Audio Mastering – Sprinter Studios
Video Editors – Jack Ross Bertelson, Phil Dedman, Bre Ferraro*, Lindsey Kvern*, Sarah Ferraro*, Eli Klatt* 
Set Assistants – Sarah Ferraro*, Patric Tillery*, Vanessa Nielsen*, Caitlin Plaisance*
Executive Producer – Scott Morfitt

* Team member is UWEC Student


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Tuesday, Apr. 16th, 2019

Work Begins to Light up Grand Ave. Bridge

The revamped Grand Avenue Bridge  during last year’s Grand Evening on the Bridge
The revamped Grand Avenue Bridge during last year’s Grand Evening on the Bridge event.

Weekday walkers, bikers, and other peddlers and perambulators will have to find a new way around downtown for the next few weeks because of the second phase of work on the Grand Avenue Pedestrian Footbridge. The installation of architectural lighting on the bridge began April 8, and will continue for between two weeks and a month, depending on weather conditions, the City of Eau Claire said. For safety reasons, the bridge will be closed 7am-5pm weekdays (although it will be open at other times and on weekends). Those who use the bridge to get around are encouraged to follow a detour path that goes east on Grand Avenue to Graham Avenue, north across the new Confluence Crossing Bridge, west across the Phoenix Park Bridge, then south along the trail toward Grand Avenue. The bridge was completely closed for several months last year during the first phase of a $1.7 million renovation project that included replacing the bridge’s decking and railings and widening its surface. The latest phase includes the installation of lighting on the bridge’s piers, overlooks, and abutments, City Engineer David Solberg said. These lights – as well as those that illuminate the bridge’s walking surface – will be able to change colors, similar to the lights on the Phoenix Park Bridge. Eventually, the downtown light show will encompass a continuous strip including the Phoenix Park Bridge, the Confluence Crossing Bridge, the Pablo Center at the Confluence, Haymarket Plaza, and the Grand Avenue bridge, Solberg added. 

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