Saturday, April 02, 2005

Hey Montrealers...

Has the cross on Mount Royal turned purple yet? Any idea where I can see a picture? I'm coming home next weekend to see the cross in full mauveness...

For those of you unaware of the tradition, the Montreal landmark turns purple from the time the Pope dies until the time that a new Pope is selected. Yesterday, Ville de Montreal officials were waiting to get confirmation from Cardinal Turcotte's office that the Pope was dead, whereupon they were going to activate the colour-changing crew. It takes about three hours to place purple filters in front of the fibre-optic cross's 32 light projectors.

The cross has not been purple since 1978 and, back then, the cross's 250 lightbulbs had to be changed by hand. The last time it changed colour was in the mid-80s, when it was turned red for a massive AIDS march. (The lightbulbs were replaced with fibre-optic "half-spheres" that look like lightbulbs from a distance in 1992 at a cost of $300,000. According to Kristian Gravenor, the change reduced the cross's lightbulb expenses from $34,000 to $2,000 per year)

Certain friends of mine refer to the cross as the Pope-o-Metre (pronounced Po-pom-eter), because from many apartments in the Plateau you can just look out window and instantly know the pontiff's health. ("How the Pope doin' tonight, Anders?" "Let me check... Still livin'!")

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