I couldn't help but notice that a portion of the Weather Beacon isn't lit, at least when it displays red. Despite the title of this post, I doubt it's actually a case of "burnout." That's a term used most accurately for light bulbs, and I think the Beacon is now sportin' a whole lot of LEDs. One section of the red ones appears to be malfunctioning. Bummer.
So...that thing doesn't really make the weather...does it?
It was fun to joke about that during my KFYR days. The TV station control operator (me, five nights a week) was in charge of changing the weather beacon to reflect the updated forecast throughout the broadcast day. On our program log in the control room, in between entries for commercials and programs, were occasional reminders to update the weather beacon.
There was a panel in the weather room with six buttons on it: red, white, green, flashing red, flashing white, and flashing green. These switches are still in a rack at the TV station, even though they are have not been connected to the Beacon for quite some time. Last I remember, the KFYR Radio control guys switched it by dialing a phone number (no, I'm not posting that here).
The poor Beacon almost faded into history in 1997. It was showing its wear, and the cost of modernizing it was prohibitive. That was, however, until KFYR Radio rode to the rescue. Phil Parker and Mark Armstrong headed an effort to Save the Beacon!
At this time, Meyer Broadcasting was still intact. While I was hard at work on the TV side of the building, I also freelanced the website for KFYR-AM Radio. As part of the campaign to save the Weather Beacon, we had a couple of pages on the website urging people to help donate.
You can click here to see the original Save the Beacon page from my archives. Yeah, the Web has come a long way.
The campaign was a success in that it raised money toward the Beacon's restoration, increased public awareness of its plight, and served as a rallying cry to its rescue. While the entire cost of the Beacon's renovation was not raised, its importance to the community was indisputably proven. Through a matching grant from local government and plenty of donations, the project was underway.
As part of the KFYR website, we were happy to post that the Beacon would be saved. Cliff Naylor did a report on the Beacon that aired as part of a live telecast from the roof of the Provident Building, atop which the Beacon still sits.
You can click here to see the post-campaign page from my archives and watch the video.
As I recall, and the details in my head are quite murky, the Beacon was restored but still had some gremlins. I believe it was then refitted one more time and has functioned ever since. None of it would have been possible without Phil and Mark. To this day, the controls reside with KFYR Radio instead of the television station. In fact, why don't you call the PH Phactor on KFYR 550 AM and ask Phil about it?
Oh yeah...the t-shirt. We had t-shirts made, and I still have mine. It has caricatures of Phil Parker and Mark Armstrong on the front, and a key to understanding the Beacon on the back:
Weather Beacon white as snow, down the temperature will go.
Weather Beacon red as fire, temperature is going higher.
Weather Beacon an emerald green, no change forseen.
When colors blink in agitation, there's going to be precipitation.
Provident Life used to sponsor TV spots featuring the Beacon and its rhymes. Since they're no longer doing business there, the ads don't run. That means that the weather beacon itself is somewhat obscure now, with newer Bismarck-Mandan residents unaware of its history. For those of us who have lived here a long time, it's good to see the weather beacon standing tall. No matter what the forecast, there's something great about seeing it red in the spring, green when things are just right, and white when Thanksgiving and Christmas approach. Thanks to everyone who helped keep it up and running!
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Last night my boys and I went to partake of the Christmas tree lighting ceremony in the North Dakota state capitol building's Great hall. As I've posted before, this isn't their first time to witness this event. Even though they were only two years old last year, they remember it well. They think the Great Hall should have a Christmas tree every day. Who can argue with that?
This year my little fellas got to meet some people afterwards and work their charms. I have such polite little men, I'm overflowing with pride at how well they behave and conduct themselves at events like this. They got to introduce themselves to the Hoevens.
The bright lights shining on the tree from above were bothering their eyes, but they still did their best to politely pose with Brandi Schoenberg, Miss North Dakota for 2010-2011. They told her how Daddy was taking them out for cheeseburgers after they were done.
The star of the evening: a glorious Christmas Tree with decorations made and donated by North Dakotans. It will be on display in the Great Hall, so come take a look! It's best viewed at the end of the day when it gets dark outside.
The display is also visible from outside as you drive by or, if you're crazy, hike up the snow-covered steps to get a closer look.
Yes, the window display is in full effect. The North and South faces of the capitol tower are sporting their familiar red and green Christmas Tree shape.
The ceremony was grand, with a brass quartet from the Bismarck-Mandan Symphony playing as well as pianist Joel Gilbertson and a brief performance by Dakota Stage. My favorite part was that the entire assembly sang Silent Night and God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, two songs that are very clear in mentioning the birth of our Savior, Jesus Christ. Amen.
Okay, folks...we're in full swing. We have approximately two and a half weeks of Christmas season remaining. Let's enjoy this time to its fullest and cherish our Christmas memories!
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Monday's the day! Not only does the official Capitol Christmas Tree lighting ceremony take place in the Great Hall, but the Christmas Window Display begins as well! Bill Jundt and his crew will be doing their part, pulling window shades and leaving the lights on for the next few weeks. I can't wait! Neither can my toddlers.
Make sure you check out the capitol building this holiday season! Driving by after dark will not only give you a glimpse of the Christmas trees in the north and south faces' windows, but the Christmas tree in the Great Hall will be lit and visible through the enormous windows facing the Capitol mall.
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After hours of clearing sidewalks around my neighborhood, I couldn't resist. I went for a brief ride, just long enough to run down to the Capitol and pose for a quick shot.
Yes, I got a lot of surprised stares and double-takes from people in their cars. I'm actually not the most hardcore winter motorcyclist out there; this was a novelty trip for me. I've seen other people out over the winter with studded tires on their bikes, clearly running errands or going to work. Now THAT is hardcore.
Knobby tires don't give much traction in the really messy snow found on roads that aren't plowed. Most of the roads I took, however, had been plowed and offered sufficient traction. After taking my little joy ride and snapping a couple of pictures with my cell phone, I figured I'd been fortunate enough and skated back to the safety of my nice, warm Garage Majal.
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I was haunting the halls of KFYR-TV tonight when my buddy Kevin Lawrence came in to prepare for the ten o'clock news. He asked what tomorrow is (other than my friend Ken's birthday), and I was stumped. Ken, however, apparently listens intently while directing the newscast and knew that December 1st means the start of Meteorological Winter. Not only did he impress the meteorologist, but he gave me something to Google when I got home. Thanks for the heads-up, guys!
December 1st also means the return of the long-absent Bismarck-Mandan Blog Calendar. This is one of my favorite Capitol Christmas shots, and soon the windows of the capitol tower will be adorned with those familiar red and green windows.
If you have Adobe Acrobat Reader installed, you're good to go. It may take a little bit for the program to load, but the file should download reasonably quickly. Click on the icon below to download the free Adobe Reader if necessary.
When you print the PDF, fold along the lines and tape or staple at the bottom. You will then have a free-standing desk calendar with a reminder of the joyful celebration of Christmas at one of Bismarck's most prominent landmarks.
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