Empire State Building Declines to Light Gold for Childhood Cancer


Photo from the Empire State Building website (esbnyc.com). Here the landmark is seen in its signature white light.

Haley Macray, Veritas Staff

New York’s famous skyline will not be lighting up gold anytime soon and neither will its most recognizable feature.

The Empire State Building is an iconic New York City landmark. It has been known to switch from its signature white lighting to all different combinations of illumination in honor of organizations, teams, and holidays.

A recent controversy involving the Empire State Building arose when individuals asked for the building to light up in gold in honor of September being Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. The Empire State Building’s management declined to do so.

Their website provides an application for lighting requests. On this web page it states that the Empire State Building is privately owned, along with other terms of agreement, including the following:

“The Empire State Building celebrates many cultures and causes in the world community with iconic lightings. Outside of its tradition of lightings for the religious holidays of Easter, Eid al Fitr, Hanukah and Christmas, the Empire State Building has a specific policy against lighting for religious figures, religious organizations, and additional religious holidays,” says the Empire State Building’s tower lighting request page. “The Empire State Building also does not light for political figures and campaigns, for personal events such as birthdays, anniversaries or weddings, or for commercial events such as product launches.”

One of the main reasons why officials at the Empire State Building refuse to light the tower in gold is because the request to do so came from an individual, Tony Stoddard, who lost his son in 2012 to childhood cancer.

“It is clearly stated on our Lighting Partner Application on our website that the Empire State Building does not accept lighting requests from individuals,” says a statement from Empire State Building employees regarding the childhood cancer outrage. Yet, no mention of this agreement can be seen on the application.


This photo shows the tower lights in yellow, blue and green to signify the U.S. Open Tennis Championship held in New York this past weekend.

This sparked outrage through the childhood cancer community. Many were confused as to why the Empire State Building would light in honor of movies, Broadway shows, and other less serious causes and not childhood cancer which affects thousands yearly.

Interesting contradictions regarding the Empire State Building were brought up following this issue. As said earlier the Empire State Building declines to light for “political figures and campaigns.” However, just recently the landmark lit up blue in honor of the Democratic National Committee in hopes of having the party hold its next convention in the famous city. It seems as though this lighting goes directly against the building’s terms of agreement.

Childhood cancer activists took to social media sparking a campaign asking the Empire State Building to reverse their decision and light gold. This media petition has good intentions but has not made much headway as of yet.

The Empire State Building website reads in bold, “Any lighting request via petitions and/or social media campaigns is automatically not considered.”

After heated discussions the Empire State Building administrators released a statement saying that they will not be lighting gold for September but that they in no way oppose support of the cause.

Although the monument’s managers have their own reasons for choosing not to accept the requests of childhood cancer advocates, their explanations seem to be a bit one sided.

“This social media campaign has become abusive,” says a statement regarding the controversy. “Empire State Building employees have been personally attacked on the phone and harassed by e-mail and the internet by people who do not know them with profanity, threats, bullying and, perhaps the worst, wishes that they ‘get cancer’.”

It is not appropriate to take actions like this towards Empire State Building associates but at the same time children diagnosed with cancer face incredibly more difficult battles each and every day.

The Empire State Building administrators have summed up their position with the following statement.

“There is no lighting in 2014 for organizations which address childhood cancer. Organizations which behave responsibly may newly apply for a Lighting Partnership in 2015 and future years.”

The Empire State Building’s statement does explain why the choice of not lighting gold was made, but now it is not just an individual standing behind the cause. A large group of people are passionate about this issue. In this case the Empire State Building should consider making an exception to the tower lighting request terms of agreement.



Posted on September 8, 2014, in News. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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