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Celebration of light at Warren’s David Grohl Alley

A celebration of light

Staff photo / R. Michael Semple John Galvin, founder of Chromaticity, left, and Rick Stockburger, CEO of BRITE Energy Innovators, unveil a new lighting display created for David Grohl Alley on Tuesday.

WARREN — The Foo Fighters’ second album is called “The Colour and the Shape.”

Now the alley that bears Foo founder Dave Grohl’s name is filled with color, and the shape shifting is coming soon.

BRITE Energy Innovators did a small private unveiling Tuesday of its BRITEn Up Dave Grohl Alley project, which started with the installation of 25,600 LED lights on the covered portion of the alley that runs parallel to the 100 block of West Market Street downtown. The technology company incubator didn’t want to do a public unveiling in order to avoid a large crowd while COVID-19 restrictions remain in place.

“This is just the next step in a lot of steps that have already been taken by this community to make it attractive to talented young people,” Rick Stockburger, CEO of BRITE, said.

The project was designed and installed by John Galvin, founder of the sound and lighting company Chromaticity, and Andrew Boyer. Both are students at Youngstown State University.

Stockburger said he was 33 years old when he was selected as CEO three years ago and, “I always wanted to make sure organizationally, if any of our talented young people wanted to do something creatively, that they got the opportunity.”

Galvin said he was inspired by photographs he saw of a similar installation at Pittsburgh’s Garrison Canal.

“I want to make one of those,” he said the first time he saw the canal. “A few months later, I got a chance to, which is kind of cool.”

After a brief technical hiccup, all 25,600 lights lit the space with different red, green, blue and white color patterns creeping over the ceiling from south to north. Four speakers also are installed in the alley, and an electronic kiosk — housed in an old alcohol barrel — will work as a jukebox that visitors can pick songs from to accompany the light show.

The kiosk will be located in Modern Methods Brewing Company, which stands to benefit from the increase in visitors the light installation should draw.

Modern Methods owner Adam Keck said, “It’s another great asset added to downtown and the way this weird alley is shaping up.”

Additions are planned. Next spring they want to install motion-sensitive cameras, which would allow people to play the early video game Pong on the ceiling of the alley. Galvin said it also would be possible to make the lights automatically adjust to the weather (sparkling blue when it rains or sparkling red on a sunny day) or play psychedelic videos.

Money is needed to make that happen. BRITE has raised about $13,500 so far from project contributors Raymond John Wean Foundation, Trumbull 100, Fund for Warren’s Future, David Grohl Alley Committee, Trumbull Neighborhood Partnership, Trumbull County Tourism Bureau and Modern Methods, and a GoFundMe online campaign. However, the total cost of the proposed project is $20,000. Stockburger encouraged the public to contribute to the GoFundMe campaign.

The lights have been on at different times over the last couple of weeks, and Stockburger said he’s already seen plenty of photos on social media of people posting selfies with the lights as the backdrop. He said the alley will be “a true destination” when the project is complete.

Warren Mayor Doug Franklin praised the initial effort by retired Warren police officer Joseph O’Grady to name the downtown alley after Grohl, who was born in Warren and is an inductee into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame as member of Nirvana. Grohl attended the dedication ceremony in 2009, and both he and his bandmates in Foo Fighters have visited the alley.

“This is great news,” Franklin said. “In the midst of this pandemic, to get together and see this cool public expansion and investment in public space, it’s really enlightening and encouraging.”

agray@tribtoday.com

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