Iconic star in downtown Seattle gets new technology to give virtual holiday cheer and support a cause

The holiday season at Westlake Plaza in downtown Seattle has always been merry, bright and full of people. However, celebrating in 2020 will look and feel empty as people maintain social distance during the COVID-19 pandemic. A group of developers are bringing art, technology and a Northwest landmark together for some holiday cheer and shining a light on families in need.

The iconic star that adorned the former Macy’s department store is now known as the “Seattle Star.” For decades, is has been lit during the entire holiday season. The piece of nostalgia is getting a new life in this virtual world and will support a cause. The 160-foot star was refurbished with new technology for a new virtual holiday experience called “15 Seconds of Stardom.”

“This is going to be a unique holiday season, hopefully the last like this at least in our lifetime. And just a little bit of joy from this. It has been a rough year and I believe this will be something fun and interesting,” said Paul Brenneke, executive chairman of Sortis Holdings, developers of the former department store.

The idea of 15 Seconds of Stardom is open for anyone to create a virtually customized light show from the palm of their hand. The star is hooked up to more than 4,200 LED lights that can change colors and patterns all personally programmed online. Users can pay for how long their light show will last from their choice of 15 seconds, one minute, 15 minutes or 30 minutes. 15 seconds will cost $15 and the price increases with each time increment.

Part of the proceeds will benefit Mary’s Place, a nonprofit helping families have a safe place to live.

“It will keep families in their home during this pandemic. And those that have lost their homes due to unemployment, or domestic violence because they couldn’t stay home and stay healthy, we’ll be able to help them. Bring them into shelter and put them on a path to housing with the funding that is raised,” said Marty Hartman, executive director of Mary’s Place.

The star can be programmed on the 15 Seconds of Stardom website or app from anywhere in the world and viewed on a livestream. Customers will receive a video of their custom light show when it’s finished. Reservations are available for daily time slots. The star will be lit November 27 through January 6.

Though not as many people will be visiting the Westlake Plaza to see the star up close, it will shine bright once again with much needed holiday cheer.

“We’re all in this together, we’re better together. Shine a light on your neighbors, reach out with a helping hand and support. It’s what we need and it’s all we have right now—that inspiration, encouragement and hope from one another,” said Hartman.