If NYC won’t host 9/11 light tribute, Jersey Shore towns say they would
MIDDLETOWN — After New York City, no other municipality suffered a greater death toll on 9/11 than this Bayshore community.
Which is why when organizers of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum announced this week that, for the first time since 2003, the twin-beam light tribute would not shine, Mayor Tony Perry fired off a letter requesting that the celestial tribute be moved to his township.
Organizers said that they were concerned about the safety of the workers who would have to set up the 88 xenon spotlights in lower Manhattan. While they expect the Tribute in Light to return next year, this year's visual remembrance would be limited to blue lights illuminating the spires and facades of Manhattan's skyscrapers.
Last month, organizers also scrapped the annual tradition of relatives reading the names of the the nearly 3,000 victims of the 9/11 terrorist attacks. Instead this year, they will showcase the recordings of previous name readings from the museum's "In Memoriam" exhibition.
Among the victims were 750 from New Jersey, including 37 from Middletown.
The decisions have angered many people in the region, with firefighter and police unions and several members of the New York City Council asking for federal officials to intervene.
In Monmouth County, Mayor Perry wrote to 9/11 Memorial & Museum President Alice M. Greenwald on Friday saying that his community was "disgusted" about what he considers the organization's lack of respect for the victims.
"I think it's a disgrace that the National September 11 Memorial & Museum Board has cancelled the largest visible tribute to those who made the greatest sacrifice for our country," his letter says. "New York City continues to build skyscrapers without delay, but a tribute so important to our country to honor and pay respect to the victims bas been cancelled with zero regard."
He adds that if the tribute cannot shine in New York City, "I will proudly, and safely, host them in Middletown."
Perry makes no explanation for how that could be accomplished.
The 88 spotlights, each burning 7,000 watts, cost about half a million dollars to maintain each year.
At least one other community wants to come to the rescue. Patch reported that an official in Union Beach wants to light up two sets of 4,000-watt four-beam searchlights.
Sergio Bichao is deputy digital editor at New Jersey 101.5. Send him news tips: Call 609-359-5348 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.