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Phoenix Park Bridge Will Light Up to Honor 2020 Grads

V1 Staff, photos by Andrea Paulseth

Among the many disappointments caused by this spring’s pandemic has been the cancelation of in-person graduation ceremonies for young people wrapping up their high school and college careers. From drive-by parades to virtual ceremonies to ex-presidential pep talks, a variety of creative commencement celebrations have been devised. Here in Eau Claire, the 170 LED lights on the Phoenix Park footbridge will blaze in honor of graduates of UW-Eau Claire, Chippewa Valley Technical College, and several Chippewa Valley high schools over the coming weeks.

“We were approached by the Eau Claire Area School District and the university about lighting the bridge, and we thought it was a really fun way to help celebrate our graduates, especially since they have missed out on so many of the graduation traditions this year,” said Dustin Olson, communications and promotions Coordinator for Downtown Eau Claire Inc., a nonprofit organization that promotes the downtown.

Here’s the lighting schedule:

  • May 21 – UWEC (Blue and Gold)
  • May 22 – UWEC (Blue and Gold)
  • May 23 – All local high school colors
  • May 26 – Altoona High School and CVTC (Red)
  • May 27 – Regis and Fall Creek high schools (Green)
  • May 28 – North High School (Blue)
  • May 29 – Memorial and Augusta high schools (Purple)
  • May 30 – All local high school colors

Downtown Eau Claire Inc. and the Rotary Club of Eau Claire – which spearheaded the fundraising effort to add multicolored, programmable lights to the bridge in 2017 – are lighting the bridge free of charge to honor graduates. However, those who want to light up the bridge in the colors of their choice to celebrate their own special event can do so by contacting DECI online at bit.ly/ec-river-lights.