Light City? More Like Aight City.

A lot of hype but a lot of disorganization for Light City Baltimore.

Written by Nina Lerner.

On Wednesday March 30, I went down into the Inner Harbor with some friends for this “Festival of Light, Music and Innovation.” We got off on Pratt Street and went to explore. We saw one display of circular lights all over the ground, but it was swarmed with kids and we wanted no part in that. Kind of lost, and not exactly sure what direction we were supposed to be going in, we stumbled across a protest.

It was a peaceful protest against police brutality in honor of Tyrone West, who was killed at age 44 during a routine traffic stop in 2013. Witnesses say that 10-12 police officers beat West to death, still hitting him and sitting on him after he had stopped moving completely. No officers were found guilty, and West’s family was told the cause of death was a heart attack.

We listened to Tyrone’s mother, sister, cousins and friends speak. All were fed up with the institutionalized racism and blatant miscarriages of justice in our society. They called upon black police officers to not turn a blind eye to their colleagues. It was heartbreaking, emotional and moving — three years after West’s death and still his family will not sit down and give up. I find it incredibly powerful. My family lost someone to a negligent driver in 2014 and have been fighting ever since for better traffic laws and stricter punishments for those who kill with cars, but sometimes it can get exhausting to fight so hard for something that others cannot relate to and can easily ignore. The courts have already made their decisions, and it seems like nothing will ever get better. It is because I have felt the West family’s frustration that I find their persistence so touching.

(If pedestrian safety is important you, check out http://cooperstocksway.org/, which is an organization made in honor of my late cousin Cooper that seeks to change driver behavior and keep our streets safe.)

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I didn’t think to get a solid picture of the protest during it, but this is what I have. West’s mother appears small in a black coat with a red hood above red sweater guy’s left shoulder.

After we stayed at the protest for a while, we wandered the edge of the harbor. Everything was pretty disorganized and we didn’t find a good map for a while. There was apparently an app that had an interactive map on it, but my friends and I had neither room on our phones to download apps nor the patience to deal with using one in the dark, crowded cold. We wanted a good, old-fashioned map with a big ol’ YOU ARE HERE plastered next to a star. Maybe most millennials want the app, I don’t know.

We saw a tent selling hamburgers but as some of my friends are vegetarians (gross I know), we decided to wait for the next food stand. It took us almost an hour to find the next food stop and we were totally starving  by then. We did see some cool sights along the way…

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This huge, square, light-up sign that never stopped changing.
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Spotlights moved quickly round the ship’s sails and stuff, but it didn’t look like much.
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There was this cool, old-timey police car that I was all about.
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These are exactly what they look like: giant, stacked cubes of light.
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This science center (right?) was lit up blue.
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Woo DJ crazy party time!!! #clublightcity
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This see-thru mural was pretty awesome and stretched at least 50 feet. Everyone was very generous with the markers, too.
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These bamboo things totally looked like a bunch of lit up joints, and it made me and my friends laugh.
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We never quite figured out what this was. Giant glacier thing?
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This ferris wheel lit up in some awesome patterns. The line was like 100 people long though, so we passed.
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The Peabody Prep orchestra played. Brought me back to high school.

Though we wished the signage were better, Light City did have some pretty cool installations. For next year though, there’s gotta be more food and better directions. We young people came just as much for the food and drink as we did for the lights.

Nina Lerner is a writer, filmmaker, New Yorker, dog lover and chronic disappointment to her parents. She writes for the JHU-based comedy newspaper The Black and Blue Jay and once had a glamorous, unpaid summer internship for a talent agency in NYC. She loves the theater, horrible sports teams and Paul McCartney. Her parents are actually very proud of her.

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