Sign Up For The Loop!

Pacific Wheel Lit Red, White and Blue for Memorial Day

Published on May 14, 2024

The Pacific Wheel will be lit red, white, and blue and feature a 130-feet tall, animated waving American flag throughout Memorial Day weekend.

On Memorial Day we remember and honor the brave men and women who lost their lives while serving in the U.S. military. This important occasion falls on on the last Monday of May each year, and is a federal holiday in the US. That means that State and Federal government offices are closed, as well as banks, most schools, and some businesses.

Our special Memorial Day lighting event will take place on the evening of Friday, May 24 through to Monday, May 27. The Ferris wheel lights can be seen from dusk until 11:35 PM each evening. If you can’t make it to the Santa Monica Pier, enjoy watching the light program online at

Special Lighting of the Pacific Wheel for Memorial Day

Friday, May 24 to Monday, May 27
dusk (around 7:30 PM) to midnight

Pacific Park on the Santa Monica Pier


Originally called Decoration Day, Memorial Day was first established as a day of remembrance for those that died in the American Civil War.

The first large observance of Decoration Day was held at Arlington National Cemetery, across the Potomac River from Washington, D.C on May 30, 1968. General John A. Logan declared the day for “the purpose of strewing with flowers, or otherwise decorating the graves of comrades who died in defense of their country during the late rebellion, and whose bodies now lie in almost every city, village and hamlet churchyard in the land.” General Logan was then commander of the Grand Army of the Republic, a fraternal organization of Union veterans.

By the late 1800s, Decoration Day was being observed in most states of the Union.

After World War I, Decoration Day was extended to include all men and women who died in any war or military action. The current name, Memorial Day,  did not come into use until after World War II.

Decoration Day (and eventually Memorial Day) was held on May 30 regardless of the day of the week on which it fell. In 1968, the Uniform Holidays Bill was passed as part of a move to use federal holidays to create three-day weekends. This meant that from 1971, the Memorial Day holiday has been officially observed on the last Monday in May. It took some time before all American states adopted the new date.

Today, Memorial Day is a day for Americans to remember and honor all those who have died in service to their country. It is traditional to fly the flag of the United States at half staff from dawn until noon. Many people visit cemeteries and memorials to pay their respects and place flowers, and some participate in parades.

In national cemeteries, volunteers place an American flag on each grave. Unlike Veteran’s Day, in which we remember and appreciate the sacrifices of all American veterans, Memorial Day allows the country to focus on those service members who are no longer with us.

Memorial Day is also a time for many Americans to enjoy the start of summer by spending time outdoors with family and friends,   holding family gatherings and cookouts. It is estimated that Americans consume nearly 72 million hot dogs on this day alone!

Along with Memorial Day’s red, white and blue lighting design, Pacific Park regularly programs the solar-powered Ferris wheel to display seasonal  light designs for holidays and special occasions.

The Pacific Wheel’s state-of-the-art lighting package was installed in 2016 and can display over 1.6 million different colors and animate patterns and icons in 24 frames per second. The energy-efficient LEDs on the face of the Ferris wheel are powered by solar arrays inside Pacific Park. The light programs are curated and designed by Pacific Park staff. Each design is manually animated; some designs can take hours of programming. The aim is to provide fun, high-energy, and sometimes whimsical designs to entertain guests on the Santa Monica Pier and surrounding beaches.

Feature image courtesy of @marialenz