September 11, 2014

Cornell to Light Up Empire State Building for Sesquicentennial

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Cornell will kick off its sesquicentennial celebrations this weekend in New York City by illuminating the Empire State Building “Big Red” today.

Throughout the weekend, Cornell will hold a series of events and performances in New York City, which will begin with President David Skorton, NBC correspondent Kate Snow ’91 and the Big Red Bear lighting the Empire State Building at 2 p.m.

The weekend will continue with a The Today Show feature on Saturday morning followed later in the day by events with surprise celebrity guest appearances, according to Charles Phlegar, vice president for alumni affairs and development. The billboards in Times Square will also be dedicated to celebrating the 150th anniversary.

“It’s going to be quite an overview of what we’ve done and where we’re headed as a university. This will be the first of a series of events that will happen around the country, in London and Hong Kong,” Phlegar said. “There’s a lot of excitement. It’ll be a lot of fun.”

The Cornell Glee Club will perform Cornell-related songs at the celebrations on Saturday, according to Mike Gross ’15, alumni affairs officer for the group. Gross said the pieces will include a composition by one of the club members, as well as the alma mater.

“As an organization we’re honored to be a part of this of this celebration,” Gross said. “The glee club is the oldest student-run organization — it was around when Cornell opened to students in 1868. I think it is particularly fitting that Cornell’s oldest organization will be there to usher in the new generation.”

Ross Gitlin ’15, undergraduate student trustee, also said he thinks that the celebrations will be a time for those associated with the University to think about the past as well as the future.

“The sesquicentennial provides the Cornell community the opportunity to celebrate our accomplishments of the past 150 years as well as reflect on the important work that remains to be done over next 150 years,” Gitlin said.

According to Phlegar, sesquicentennial events will continue into next year and will take place in Washington D.C., San Francisco, London and Hong Kong, among other locations.

This year’s homecoming in October will also be themed for the sesquicentennial, Phlegar said.