9/11 museum cancels twin towers light tribute due to coronavirus
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The National September 11 Memorial & Museum on Thursday announced that it will not project the customary blue light tribute into the sky to mark the 19th anniversary of the terrorist attack due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The world’s beloved twin beams of light regrettably will not shine over Lower Manhattan as part of this year’s tributes,” Michael Frazier, a memorial and museum spokesman, said in a statement. "This incredibly difficult decision was reached in consultation with our partners after concluding the health risks during the pandemic were far too great for the large crew required to produce the annual Tribute in Light."

Nearly 40 stagehands and electricians work for more than a week to produce the light tribute each year, The New York Times reported.

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The installation is one of the signature elements of the annual commemorations at the site of the former World Trade Center, turning on around dusk and shining into the night sky until dawn on Sept. 12.

The two columns reach four miles into the sky and are typically visible for a radius of up to 60 miles.

The Times reported that the light beams were first projected into the Manhattan sky on March 11, 2002, just six months after the attack and just three months after the fires were officially declared extinguished.

Five artists and architects — John Bennett, Gustavo Bonevardi, Richard Nash Gould, Julian LaVerdiere and Paul Myoda — reportedly came up with the same concept around the time, according to the Times.

The memorial is also making another major change to this year’s commemoration. Instead of having relatives onstage reading the names of the 2,983 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks and the 1993 bombing, recorded readings of names will be broadcasted to comply with social distancing regulations.

There will still be an outdoor memorial where family members will be appropriately distanced, the museum said.

“Throughout the ceremony, we will observe six moments of silence, acknowledging when each of the World Trade Center towers was struck and fell, and the times corresponding to the attack on the Pentagon and the crash of United Airlines Flight 93,” the museum said in a statement. “Our program will commence at 8:30 a.m., and the first moment of silence will be observed at 8:46 a.m. We will encourage houses of worship to toll their bells at that time.”