I love my city in the fierce kind of way that not even six plus months of rain can shake. Yesterday’s celebration was just another example of what makes Seattle so great.
Rainier Beer is a local legend. The brand conjures up memories of summer BBQs and cult-classic TV ads.
My dad drank Rainier. Though my brother and sister and I weren’t drinking beer in the 80s, we would chant “Raaaaaaaiiiiiiiniiiiiiieeeeeer beeeeeeeeeer,” while riding our bikes through the back yard. My friend’s wife dressed up as a Rainier Beer bottle for Halloween one year … before the age of ten. You can’t pay for that kind of brand appeal. Rainier Beer appealed to its hometown crowd to build a brand that was bigger than beer—it was Seattle.
Since 1953, the iconic Rainier R lit up the sky atop the Old Rainier Brewery (ORB). When the R was replaced with the Tully’s T, Seattle lost a piece of its heritage. But the story doesn’t end there.
Earlier this year, Tully’s terminated its lease on the ORB and, in turn, its rights to display the T (source). Enter Pabst (Columbia Distributing), MOHAI, and Western Neon. The powerhouse collaborators united behind a single goal: returning the R to its rightful home.
With the original R safely exhibited at the Museum of History and Industry, we needed a replacement. Led by president Andre Lucero, Western Neon embarked on the project of a lifetime: replicating one of Seattle’s most beloved landmarks. And they didn’t disappoint.
The bright, shiny new R is a beauty to behold. It’s red and sassy and familiar.
What better way to welcome the R, than a party?
Tuesday night, the R took a spirited tour of the city on a Neighborhood R Crawl, starting at Western Neon in SODO and ending the night on the Hill. Local photographer Conor Musgrave captured some pretty badass pictures that night. (View all his shots at http://photos.conormusgrave.com/seattler.)
But the real party wasn’t until Thursday. On Thursday the R was to make its ascent up the ORB, and the whole city was invited to celebrate: http://www.restorether.com/.
My husband’s company, Western Crane, was tasked with the heavy R lifting, and he fed me just enough pictures throughout the day to make me like a jittery kid at Christmas.
The event started at 4, and by the time my sister and I arrived around 6, the place was PACKED. Music pumped from the speakers, the line to the beer garden was already stretching beyond the event space, and a crowd had formed in the alley where the R sat, waiting.
Hipsters and bikers, young and old, Seattle natives and transplants—we all stood shoulder to shoulder awaiting the great unveiling. The crowd was littered with Rainier Beer beanies and scarves and damn-near everyone had a phone or a camera in hand. We were ready.
Before getting shuffled back down to street level for the start of the ceremony, the R was disrobed with a flourish and a spin.
Outside the at-capacity beer garden, we were treated to a short video honoring the legacy of Rainier Beer and detailing the recreation of the R. Mayor Mike McGinn cut the ceremonial ribbon, and the R was ready for lift off.
A lone spotlight followed the R’s progress as it was slowly hoisted into the air. The foggy night sky worked to our advantage, leaving a bat symbol (beer symbol?) high above the Brewery. It. Was. Awesome.
Welcome home, R. We sure did miss you.
Updated 10/26/13 to include photos from @chachphoto.