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Beyond Walls lights up downtown Lynn ‘like Times Square on New Year’s Eve’

This bridge on Market Street was one of the three bridges that were lighted as part of the Beyond Walls lighting ceremony. (Owen O'Rourke)

LYNN — Wednesday night, as darkness set in, about 500 people, including the mayor of Lynn, stood under a railroad underpass on Washington Street and looked toward the heavens.

With the crowd clapping in rhythm and a loud 3-2-1 countdown, suddenly the area lit up like Times Square on New Year’s Eve.

Let there be light, indeed.

Welcome to the most recent accomplishment by Beyond Walls: the illumination of three MBTA underpasses in downtown Lynn.  

One of the three overpasses that were set with lights as part of the Beyond Walls lighting ceremony. (Owen O’Rourke)

While local drum/percussion band Grooversity got a mighty groove going, the lights pulsed in red, blue, yellow and green. The faster the band played, the quicker the colors changed, starting on Central Avenue all the way to Washington Street.

When MBTA trains pull out of the station above, the speed and color of the lights will change.

Mayor Thomas M. McGee, elected officials, civic, community, business and union leaders crowded onto an orange construction lift, and helped “flip the switch” to reveal 600 feet (247 fixtures) of colorful LED “smart” lighting. This is more than just a  public art installation with a programmable, remote-controlled, color-changing system, it will make three busy intersections (in Central Square and on Washington and Market streets) brighter and safer for pedestrians.

The vintage neon art displayed throughout downtown also shined brightly last night.

Pedro Soto, manager of the project for Beyond Walls, served as emcee.

The night’s loudest cheer was for IBEW Local 103, whose members volunteered their time and labored in snow, cold and wind, to drill 530 holes in the bridges’ underside to make the lights secure. IBEW foremen Scott Ellis and Tim Mackey, business agents Dave O’laughlin and Kennell Broomstein and business manager Rich Antonellis all took a bow. Three recent Lynn Vocational Technical Institute graduates, Cameron Fentress, Rartha Kou Thach, and Jose Zacarias Lopez, worked side by side with the union members, and got to stand on the lift with the other dignitaries.

One of the three bridges, this one on Washington Street, that were lit as part of the Beyond Walls lighting ceremony. (Owen O’Rourke)

“This is dedicated to the citizens of Lynn and those who hold Lynn in the hearts,” said Soto, a Lynn resident.

Al Wilson, founder/executive director/guiding light of Beyond Walls, said: “This is fantastic. This plan started at a community meeting in 2016. More lights were needed downtown, that’s what we were told over and over again. It took awhile, but I love the way the community, business leaders, property owners, the union guys who worked for 10 weeks in three teams of four in ice and snow and wind, all came together to make this happen.”

McGee said he was not surprised by the large turnout. “This is a special night. Al Wilson had the vision and here we are. … He tapped into the hearts and soul of this city, and the community responded and came together to make this happen.”

The second Beyond Walls Mural Festival will be held August 6-19.

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