COLUMBIA — The marquee sign at the entrance of The Tiger Hotel will not be casting its familiar glow on downtown Columbia on Saturday night.
The lights will be off from 5 p.m. Saturday until Sunday morning in honor of Earth Hour, said Myriah Collins, operations manager at the hotel.
Earth Hour, which started last year in Sydney, Australia, has now become a global event. Columbia will be joining places like Chicago, Fiji and Tel Aviv in celebrating Earth Hour by asking residents and businesses to turn off lights and other electrical appliances between 8 and 9 p.m. on Saturday to raise awareness of global warming and energy use.
Monta Welch, president of the Columbia Climate Change Coalition, said at a news conference Thursday that the celebration involved “personal challenges to help us shrink our carbon footprints and keep our wallets a little more plump.”
Welch informed Columbia City Council member Barbara Hoppe of the event, and Hoppe brought the issue as a resolution before the council.
Hoppe said that Earth Hour can help raise awareness that can cut energy use beyond one hour. “It’s saving money for the public, saving money for the city, helping the earth and helping ourselves,” she said.
Mayor Darwin Hindman signed a proclamation designating Earth Hour.
A number of business that will be open during the hour have opted to participate, including Flat Branch Pub and Brewing.
General Manager Lance Wood said the business will be dimming some inside lights, turning off some equipment and turning off outside lights. “We’ll leave some lights on outside so people can see to get in,” Wood said.
Both the Columbia Water and Light and Boone Electric Cooperative will monitor the change in energy usage during the hour.
“We have the ability to monitor how much energy is used the hour before, during and after,” said Chris Rohlfing, Boone Electric Cooperative manager of member services.
However, there is no practical way to measure for variables, said Water and Light spokeswoman Connie Kacprowicz.
“There are a lot of different things to consider,” she said, citing businesses closing during that hour, temperature changes and spring break as factors that could potentially obscure data.
Even if a business is closed during Earth Hour, it can still participate, Welch said. For example, employees could take alternative transportation during the weekend.
Workers will still be at The Tiger Hotel during Earth Hour, but all the lights will be off, except the sign on the top of the building, which cannot be turned off.
“I guess we’ll all be stumbling around in the dark,” hotel sales assistant Brandon Vair said.