Washington Monument lights are a tradition
Only in Baltimore, perhaps, could the city’s favorite Christmas tree be a178-foottall marble column.
Hey, the rest of the world should be so lucky.
And it turns out, like so much about Baltimore in the last 50 years or so, we have William Donald Schaefer to thank for the Washington Monument’s status as a glowing holiday mainstay.
Before 1972, various garden clubs deco- rated the monument for the holidays, usually with a tasteful collection of greens.
The idea of putting anything as garish as lights on the nation’s first major monument to the Father of Our Country was dismissed out of hand.
Back in the 1960s, when it was common practice to bathe the monument in floodlights in the evenings, someone was heard to complain it made famed designer Robert Mills’ handiwork look like it had a case of warts.
The lights were promptly turned off.
But then Schaefer, who was about to mark his third Christmas season as Baltimore’s mayor, came back from a trip to Indianapolis. This was back before that city stole our Colts and became not exactly our best friend, and Schaefer was reportedly taken by its tradition of decorating many statues and other structures with lights.
Put ’em on the Washington Monument, the mayor ordered.
And thus was a holiday tradition born.