Thursday, December 12, 2013

Tribune: A well-lit tribute to Chris Gillott

[VIDEO] This was a very cool tribute. An electrician at a downtown skyscraper was honored after his untimely death. He had the idea of paying tribute to Walter Payton - a Bears great who was part of the 1985 Super Bowl champs bears team - who had passed away at 45 in 1999.

While you can always watch the video above as it tells the story. Here's a brief Tribune write-up:
Fourteen years ago, a Chicagoan named Walter Payton died too young. Touched, an electrician decided to use the windows of a downtown building as an overnight memorial, lighting up Blue Cross-Blue Shield Tower with the “34“ the beloved Bears running back wore on his jersey.

Just last week, that electrician, a Chicagoan named Chris Gillott, died too young. Touched, the workers he supervised decided to light up the side of that building — his building — with a tribute to the colleague and friend who started a tradition.

“They wanted to do this, they wanted to donate their time to do this, just because they cared so much about him and his family,” said Mike Rallo, a foreman electrician at the tower.

And after more than an hour of employees trudging through offices, pulling blinds and spot-checking their handiwork in the evening chill, anyone driving north into Chicago on Lake Shore Drive could see “THANKS CHRIS” spelled out on the Tuesday night skyline.

“He was one of the most modest people in the world,” said Brittney Gillott, the electrician’s daughter, who was on hand to look at the message Tuesday. “It’s extremely humbling, and it would’ve been very humbling to him.”

Since that first display honoring Payton in 1999, the south-facing windows of the Blue Cross-Blue Shield Tower have been used to celebrate the national soccer team, pay tribute to Martin Luther King Jr. and raise breast cancer awareness. Including the impromptu tribute to Gillott, 39 messages were scheduled for 2013.

The building at 300 E. Randolph St. sits just north of Millennium Park, and the nearby open space gives motorists and downtown pedestrians a clear view of whatever is spelled out in its lights. 

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