News Release News Release The City of Palo Alto
Communications Department
250 Hamilton Ave
Palo Alto, CA 94301


PRESS RELEASE 11/06/2013
Subject :

Tree Sculpture to Light Up City Hall Plaza on November 16
Life-Size Weeping Willow has 40,000 Interactive LED Lights
Contact : Harry Hirschman    650-619-5108
Claudia Keith, Chief Communications Officer    650-329-2607
Palo Alto, CA – Aurora, a life-size metal and electronic tree sculpture, will put on dazzling light shows each night for one year after its public unveiling on November 16 in King Plaza in front of City Hall.  Onlookers can define and control the lights of Aurora through a smartphone or tablet, and the whimsical sculpture made from steel will pass through the seasonal life of a real tree. 

"Aurora is a perfect fit for Palo Alto and King Plaza in so many ways," said Trish Collins, a member of the city's Public Art Commission.  "First of all, it's stunning in its scale and visual impact, both day and night.  It will be a place where people gather, interact, contemplate and get inspired.  And it attracts children as well as adults so families will get a lot out of it.  Indeed, the entire effort was kicked off by two school children, showing that young people truly have a voice and an impact in the Palo Alto community."

The installation of Aurora on King Plaza was approved by the Commission in 2012, shortly after an association of downtown Palo Alto businesses added its support to the grassroots efforts.  “A thriving, vibrant downtown where visitors and residents go to enjoy themselves is good for everyone in Palo Alto,” said Russ Cohen, executive director of the Palo Alto Downtown Business and Professional Association.  “Aurora’s dramatic presence and interactive lights will inspire visitors from all over the Bay Area and will keep our city at the forefront of community, economic and environmental leadership.”

The Public Art program has been actively engaged with the artist, Charles Gadeken of San Francisco, and a group of residents since 2011 to bring Aurora to City Hall.  Preliminary approval came with a budget allocation of $1,200 to cover insurance and permitting costs, with many times more than that coming from private contributions.  The festivities for Aurora’s public unveiling will begin at 3 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 16, and the tree’s canopy will be lit for the general public at approximately 5:30 p.m.

For information about how to get involved with Aurora, go to the project’s website at or visit its Facebook page at