Good Question: Who turns on the lights in downtown Rochester?

November 26, 2018 07:50 AM

Have you seen downtown Rochester at night lately? A lot of the buildings are lit up with all sorts of colors. Many times it's coordinated. So, who calls the shots and makes downtown light up and how are the colors chosen?

Pat Taney looked into it for this week's Good Question report.


Every night, downtown Rochester puts on a light show.

"It provides an amazing digital spark," said Heidi Zimmer-Meyer, president of the Rochester Downtown Development Corporation (RDDC).

It all starts here at the RDDC or at City Hall. They filter requests for which color the buildings display.

"If you're a health organization or a non-profit and want to celebrate something you contact the city or RDDC," Zimmer-Meyer said.

They then fire off emails and individual crews at downtown buildings like Excellus BlueCross BlueShield go into rooms and tinker with devices that control the lights on their buildings.

"One or two clicks and voila, you have a colorful skyline," said Sue Eliaszewskyj, corporate vice president of administrative services at Excellus.

The first building to start this was the Rundel Memorial Library many years ago. 

Then came a lighting breakthrough -- LED lights. 

"That has changed the ballgame," Eliaszewskyj said. "The lights are very clear and sharp and it looks fantastic," Eliaszewskyj said.

The lights are long-lasting and pretty inexpensive to run as well.

Computer systems take care of the rest.

"We put in a Pantone color, we have it set for sunrise and sunset," Eliaszewskyj said. "It knows when it's going on."

It's a coordinated effort between several downtown buildings to highlight good causes while also celebrating a downtown renaissance.

"Downtowns by definition are very dense places and they are also vertical so to be able to leverage that and then do something exciting visually is fantastic," Zimmer-Meyer said.

If you represent a cause and would like to request a certain color for downtown Rochester, you can email Ted Capuano in the City Communications Office at

If you have a question you'd like answered, send Pat an email at


Pat Taney

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