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'A' Mountain goes blue for a good cause

ASU, city of Tempe paint iconic letter blue to honor health care workers, first responders during COVID-19 crisis

Painting the 'A' blue
April 16, 2020

Editor’s note:  This story is being highlighted in ASU Now’s year in review. Read more top stories from 2020.

We know why the sky is blue. But why is the ASU "A" blue?

Arizona State University and the city of Tempe joined together Thursday to salute health care workers and first responders by painting the legendary “A” on “A” Mountain blue as part of the Light AZ Blue initiative.

First responders and health care workers are working diligently to support the community during the COVID-19 crisis. In solidarity and to show appreciation and support, ASU and Tempe painted the “A” on Hayden Butte, deviating from its traditional colors.

Gov. Doug Ducey announced this week that buildings and structures around the state would be lit blue as a symbol of support for Arizona’s frontline medical workers. Other landmarks around Tempe, the Valley and state are being lit blue, including Tempe City Hall, Valley Metro’s light rail bridge over Tempe Town Lake and the State Farm buildings at Town Lake. Other participating cities, businesses and organizations are sharing photos of the tributes on social media with the hashtag #LightAZBlue.

“We wanted to help do something to show our support for all the health care professionals and first responders working tirelessly to care for us during these times,” said Christine K. Wilkinson, president and CEO of the ASU Alumni Association. “ASU has committed many resources to fight this pandemic including developing a high-speed robotic system to process test kits, producing personal protective equipment and forming research groups dedicated to finding COVID-19 solutions. Painting the ‘A’ blue gives us another opportunity to show our gratitude to all those working on the front lines during this pandemic.”    

Historically, ASU and the city of Tempe only allow for the “A” to be painted gold with the exception of ASU’s annual Echo From The Buttes event, where the “A” is painted white to mark the start of the school year.  

In step with physical distancing and mask recommendations, the iconic gold “A” was transitioned to blue with the help of the following team:

• Tempe Mayor Mark Mitchell.

• ASU Foundation representative and Tempe City Councilmember Arlene Chin.

• Tempe Fire Medical Rescue Chief Greg Ruiz.

• ASU Alumni Association representatives Tonya Gray and Douglas Owczarczak.

“The city of Tempe is proud to partner with ASU to pay tribute to the incredible people at the front lines of managing the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic,” Mitchell said. “They are selflessly giving their skills and so many hours — and in the process, they’re giving all of us hope and the promise of better days ahead.” 

The symbolic gesture of support was also made possible by Dunn Edwards, which donated 10 gallons of blue paint.

Community members can show their appreciation of health care workers and first responders, too. Using appropriate physical distancing, walk up “A” Mountain and take your photo with the “A.” Post your photo and your thanks on social media using #lightazblue.  

Top photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

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