Seattle's Landmark Ready to Party

Space Needle lit up for Christmas and ready to explode into Year 2000

By Karen Shomo

Seattle’s Landmark Space Needle is igniting controversy as managers try to beam up some extra light for the Year 2000. Managers say the Needle needs a new addition for this New Year’s Eve. They are pushing for a beam of light to blast into the sky from the top of the 605-foot structure.

(guy with lights around neck) Butch Becker carries Christmas lights to the top

The Space Needle Corporation is taking their request to Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board. They need to get the board’s approval because the needle was declared an official Seattle landmark in April. There are some people who plan to argue against the proposal they want the Space Needle to stay the way it is and say a beam of light will make Seattle look like Las Vegas.

(Seattle skyline) View from Seattleļæ½s Space Needle

As this controversy brews, the plans go on for the annual New Year’s Eve party at the Space Needle. More than 150,000 people are expected to gather at the foot of the structure to ring in the New Year. Seattle’s party includes circus performers, light festivals, dancing, and fireworks.

Everything2000 reporter Karen Shomo helps out with Christmas Lights

This year the Space Needle will have a special New Year’s Eve surprise. Fireworks will not only burst off the base of the needle, but a group of fireworks will blast into the sky writing out the year "2000."

The fireworks cap off the lighting events at the Space Needle. Every year the landmark is lit up in the shape of a Christmas tree at the very tip-top of the needle. Getting those lights up on top of the structure is a dangerous yet exciting job for Butch Becker.

Becker makes the climbSall the way to the top

Becker has been climbing to the top of the needle for years now making sure Seattle’s landmark gets into the Christmas spirit. Becker has to drag more than 20 strings of lights over his neck, and then harness himself on top of the needle so he can drape them from the beam on top.

Becker climbs up a narrow metal ladder with the lights while Mac Hooman holds down the bottom end of the string of lights. The lights are huge and Becker can carry only one string at a time and with more than 20 strings to put up that’s an all day job. The conditions this year were actually quite pleasant for Seattle. It was cold and breezy, but there was no rain, so Becker and Hooman were able to get the lights strung up in one day.

Mac Hooman attaches string of lights to needle

Once standing on top of the Space needle you can see for miles around. From Downtown Seattle an its high-rise office structures to the Puget Sound and the ferries that carry commuters from nearby islands.

"There’s not a better view in town" said Butch Becker "It’s cold and windy, but beautiful up here". Becker loves his job, but his 18-year old son thinks his dad is "crazy".

View from the top looking down

Seattle’s Space needle was built in 1962 for the world’s Fair and is currently undergoing some major renovations. The needle is looking for a new look for the new millennium and we’ll keep you posted on its progress.

View from the top, taken by Butch Becker

DATE: 12/1/99

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