Duluth Ukrainians Relieved, Thankful City Changed Course To Light Lift Bridge
DULUTH, Minn. – Duluth’s iconic Lift Bridge shined blue and yellow in support of Ukraine for the first time Tuesday evening, adding to the slew of iconic structures across the country and world lit to support the freedom we American’s sometimes take for granted.
The moment came Tuesday after an overwhelming stand Duluthians took since the weekend urging Mayor Emily Larson to light the bridge and forget about her policy that doesn’t accept any special requests to light the structure.
At first, Larson stuck to the policy on Friday, through the weekend and again on Monday, but then had a change of heart Tuesday morning saying in a post on social media, “Sometimes you make a decision based on important variables like rules and fairness and then understand that those things really don’t apply.” Larson went on to say, “The community is right. Thank you for reminding me of who Duluth is.”
Duluthians, especially those born and raised in Ukraine, told FOX 21 the lighting of the bridge was a big deal to them and their relatives overseas.
“I came out here to check out the bridge lit up. I’m originally from Ukraine. I was hoping this would happen,” said Vladimir Skirda, who moved to Duluth from Ukraine in 1999 at the age of 15.
Skirda said he was thankful Duluth chose to light its most visible structure in support of his people.
“It’s a big symbol of Northland and freedom and this is exactly what Ukrainian people are fighting for right now, so I feel it’s pretty appropriate,” Skirda said.
Bodana Krivogorsky moved to Duluth in the 1990s and was born and raised in Ukraine. She said the community’s push for the city to light the bridge signifies America’s freedom to speak out against government – unlike what’s happening in Russia.
“In Russia, people go to protest knowing absolutely knowing they will be thrown in jail, beat up, broken ribs. They show their support to Ukraine — even they know they’re going to be prosecuted. Here it was just a push of the button,” said Krivogorsky, who referred to the city’s ability to easily light the bridge by remote computer.
Krivogorsky said the Ukrainian glow on the Lift Bridge gives a powerful feeling of comfort for people in Ukraine facing Russia’s invasion.
“Duluth is a gateway to the world. It’s a shipping canal, it’s a huge deal. It’s showing that I can snap a picture and show it to my friends, my classmates, my family back at Ukraine saying, hey, we support you, hey we stand with you, even though we are not physically there,” Krivogorsky said.
It was a night of unity in Duluth Tuesday with a local government’s simple lighting of a bridge to support a country’s right to freedom while also possibly acting as a learning moment for some.
“The lesson is that absolute power doesn’t matter if it’s in Duluth or [if it’s] in Russian, or anywhere else in the world. It can be challenge by the people — and that’s a wonderful, wonderful precious thing.” Krivogorsky said.
“Слава Україні! Героям Слава, glory to Ukraine, glory to the heroes,” Krivogorsky said.
“I feel like this is a great gesture that has been done. So I appreciate everybody who were involved in getting this lit up and spreading the message,” Skirda said.
The Lift Bridge and Enger Tower will be lit for Ukraine through Sunday.
Mayor Larson said on Tuesday that her administration will have an updated lighting policy for both structures in 60 days, which is a change in course from originally saying Monday that only Enger Tower would be getting an updated lighting policy for to handle future lighting requests.
Larson declined an on-camera interview Tuesday.