Peace Bridge lights symbolize numerous occasions

BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — It’s enjoyed by people on both sides of the border, but how does the LED light display on the Peace Bridge work?

They can be seen from two countries, illuminating the Peace Bridge at night over the Niagara River.

The $1.2 million lighting system went live in 2009. Senior Systems Analyst Roger Ripa is the one who sets the show using an automated software program.

“We actually had a lighting designer come and lay out the lights on the Peace Bridge, and I was involved in that process, and given the task of basically maintaining it, and programming the shows once the project was complete,” said Ripa.

It has more than 600 individual LED flood lights, connected to 27 controllers spanning the bridge. Light shows run every night between dusk and 1 a.m., and again between 5 a.m. and dawn.

“I hear nothing but good things about it,” said Ripa. “People get excited about seeing it. I hear that it makes their drive into work. People will take pictures of it.

The most popular feature of the light display is the ability for cultural and community groups to request colors for holidays and other special reasons.

There are now almost 200 nights a year that the Peace Bridge lights signify a cause, support a sports team or reflect a major world event.

Ripa says, “That was from day one. That was one of the reasons we wanted to have this — to give the community access to it, and to be able to support the community in that way.”

The image of the bridge illuminated in blue, white and red, following the recent attacks in Paris, was shared around the world.

“We wanted to show support as well for what was going on in Paris and for the people, so the request comes in from the public, and we put something together, and get it up immediately, and we ran that for I think three or four days in a row,” said Ripa.

Whenever the Bills or Sabres play at home, the bridge is lit in their team colors.

“It’s just a really exciting thing for the community to be able to see and be proud of,” said Ripa. “It’s an old bridge, and people may taken it for granted over the years, and lighting it up in special ways kind of brings it back into peoples’ minds and gives them something to be proud of again.”

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