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His Name in Lights / Nick Ehrhardt

His Name in Lights

Many people dream of seeing their names in lights, but very rarely do they dream that those lights will be 57 stories tall. That's exactly how the coworkers of one Chicago electrician chose to honor the memory of their friend, Chris Gillott, a longtime employee at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower.

Residents of the Windy City may take it for granted that the Tower will light up throughout the year, paying tribute to people who passed away or sharing other messages on the building's highly visible south side. But that tradition only goes back to 1999, when the city was mourning the loss of former Bears star Walter Payton. Gillott came up with the idea of using the Tower's lights to spell out a tribute to Payton, his number "34," and the city loved it. Since then, Gillott has planned and executed hundreds more messages, drawing up schematics by hand and spending hours raising and lowering blinds to get the design just right.

Sadly, Chris died recently. To pay tribute to their fallen colleague, engineers and electricians at the Blue Cross Blue Shield Tower came together last week to write a message for the man who wrote so many for others. Working from handwritten plans and coordinating with spotters outside, they were able to spell out "THANKS CHRIS," in letters seven stories tall. It was a fitting tribute for a man who lit up Chicago's heart for so many years.

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