Editor's Note: This story was part of a News 11 Special Report: From Tragedy to Triumph: the Veteran's Glass City Skyway.
Captain John Chamberlain of the Detroit Princess has sailed up the Maumee River into Toledo Harbor many times over the years, but it never looked like this. "We see this huge light in the air. The sun went down, this sphere of light was there," said Chamberlain. "I mean it was spectacular and I said right there and then, 'Everyone's going to know where Toledo is! This is a new landmark and it is gorgeous!'"
He's here for the bridge's official coming-out party. Thousands line the riverbank and a very lucky crowd lines up to see it all from the Princess itself. Everywhere are small boats sailing up and down the river for the ultimate close up view. And it's a perspective all it's own.
From here you get a feel for just how majestic, graceful and downright huge it is. And necessary. Sailing past the Craig Bridge points out how absolutely inadequate it's become in a 21st century world and it gives Captian Chamberlain a new appreciation of the sacrifice that made the Veterans' Glass City Skyway happen.
"You've got to understand. Although they gave their lives, they will save many more lives," said Chamberlain. "Because, before everybody in that traffic would back up and they'd get hit in the back end and it was dangerous and this was the right thing."
In fact, this entire event is designed to help raise money for the new memorial to those who built the bridge, especially those who gave their lives for it. And before the night is out comes the announcement truly decades in the making. The date when cars will begin to cross and a new era begins for the city of Toledo.
What more appropriate way to celebrate than with a light show, which brings us to one last piece of technology that will help the form of this new bridge not only follow function, but will allow the bridge to interact with the Toledo Skyline at every major event to come.
Covering the huge pylon are glass panels 185 feet tall and seven feet wide with a mirror coating that reflects the sun by day. During the night, inside are 96 light-emitting diodes designed to last 22 years, and capable of creating any color combination.
So the only thing left now to honor the planning, design, work, sacrifice, the will to make it happen is to set off the fireworks and let our new Veterans' Glass City Skyway speak for itself!
"Fantastic," said Nancy Clevenger as she watched the lights. "In '57, I was there when the Craig was built and now this. Fifty years later and another new bridge!"