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Arts and Entertainment

Playhouse Square lights up
Lighting of the new 20-foot chandelier brings out thousands of Clevelanders who see it as another sign of the city's rebirth

Kabir Bhatia
Crowds were blown away by the Playhouse Square chandelier lighting, delayed nearly an hour as organizers waited for official confirmation from the Guinness Book that it is indeed the largest such outdoor structure in the world
Courtesy of K. Bhatia
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Playhouse Square in Cleveland is now home to the world's largest outdoor chandelier. It's the culmination of a $16 million project to revitalize the theater complex, a generation after it was almost demolished. WKSU's Kabir Bhatia reports.
Playhouse Square lights up

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The 20-foot chandelier looks like a big Christmas ornament hanging two stories above street level, just in front of the Hanna Building at the gateway to Playhouse Square.

Last night's "Dazzle the District" event was the grand unveiling of the chandelier, digital signs, scrolled arches and other new landmarks of the theater district. A huge, 1920s-style retro sign now sits on a rooftop across from the Halle Building, bathed in spotlights. Organizers hope it will one day be as iconic as the Hollywood sign near Los Angeles.

Back on the map
But John Key says the chandelier is a symbol for the rebirth of the entire city, and not just a few theaters.

“It’s bringing downtown back together. I mean, back in the 1960s it was the railroad tracks. And I wish my father was still living because he was a CTS driver. Because if he was living and seeing the new busses and everything, it’s a big turnaround. And they’re bringing housing back downtown and everything.”

He says this really puts Cleveland back on the map, and Andy Malitz from Hudson agrees.

“It’s right here in Cleveland. It’s amazing what they’ve done. The chandelier? There's none bigger or better. It really dresses up the neighborhood. It's almost like New York or Chicago; it actually is better.”

A generation of rebirth
Playhouse Square spent $1.2 million for the chandelier alone. It's a far cry from the late 1960s, when the 40-year-old theaters were crumbling and abandoned. Local preservationists and city officials banded together to bring back the Allen, State, Ohio and other theaters. Today, it's the second-largest arts complex in the country, just behind Lincoln Center in New York. Dan Tylicki from Parma hopes the chandelier will bring in more tourists.

“It’s one of those untouched gems of Cleveland that everyone around here knows about, but maybe not nationally. So I think seeing that chandelier is really going to open Cleveland up to more opportunities and more people coming in [and] experiencing us.

Pop band Hot Chelle Rae fired up the thousands gathered at the corner of Euclid Ave. and E. 14th Street last night. Several musical numbers – spanning Broadway, ballet and breakdancing– preceded the chandelier lighting. Finally, as Dee Roscioli belted out "Defying Gravity" from the hit show "Wicked," the 8,500 lb. chandelier lit up for the first time.

Fireworks accompanied the celebration, and Playhouse Square President Art Falco encouraged people to visit the theater district again – and often. City officials say the chandelier will be lit up to correspond to the season, such as green for St. Patrick's Day or orange for Halloween.

Click here to view Kabir Bhatia's live-tweets of the "Dazzling the District" event.

Video from the event is here.

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