lighting the park with The Friends of Blackstone and Franklin Square

Hovering orbs and lights in the sky might conjure up ideas of ‘X Files’ proportions, but the lights and orbs over Blackstone and Franklin Square parks won’t lend themselves so much to conspiracy theories this spring as they will safety and security after dark.

The Friends of Blackstone and Franklin Squares and the Washington Gateway Main Street announced this week that creative lighting displays will be unveiled for parks this spring.

Already, some of the gold-colored lighting strands have been unveiled in Blackstone Square, and more lights are coming there in the next few days. Most especially, there will be lights below the fountain to create a dramatic feature in the center of the park.

Jennifer Effron of Washington Gateway Main Street said the lighting is a cooperative effort with all of the groups and the Neighborhood Association to create a better environment after dark. She said it piggy-backs on an effort started last year in Franklin Square where dramatic, colored lighting was used temporarily to brighten the mood.

“This was something that came up two years ago after our Neckties event, and we decided to do this,” she said. “Our emphasis has been to create clean, safe and vibrant parks, open spaces and streetscapes. This fits right in with that.”

The idea is as simple as it is exciting, and Effron said they are enthusiastic to have the lights up in the warmer times of the year to produce a cool environment that people can come out and enjoy. Part of the reason to have the lighting and heavier use after dark is to promote a safer situation and curb the criminal activity that sometimes unfurls in the Squares.

That is particularly true in Franklin Square, where the friends and the Neighborhood Association have worked diligently to create programming and unique displays to activate that Square.

Effron said that is one reason that, in the next two weeks, the most spectacular lighting display will be unveiled in Franklin Square – that being the orbs.

Two artists, Michael and Claudia Moss, will install “Nimbus.” The installation, which has been in the North End previously, will include 25 orbs in varying sizes on the trees around the center of the park. They are working on their renderings and application with the Parks Department and DPW now.

The orbs can change colors and intensity and operate on a timer.

Effron said they plan to install some signage to highlight the lighting effects, but really hope it will just attract people who are interested in seeing what’s happening.

“We’re really excited to see how it will all look when both sides are fully lit up,” said Effron. “We think it will make a great amenity for the corridor.”