Why the Hollywood sign lit up for the first time in decades

Hollywood sign
Photo credit Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Hollywood sign lit up overnight Sunday for the first time in decades.

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It’s the first time a projection illuminated the Los Angeles landmark, celebrating the BET Awards held Sunday night and turning the flat iconography into a symbol of Black excellence.


The sign has only been lit overnight twice in its history. The last time was in 2000, marking the turn of the millennium. Before that, the sign was lit for the 1984 Summer Olympics.

Clips playing on the sign included footage from previous BET Awards, an American flag, and network slogans.

To pull it off, organizers trucked industrial projectors into place. But, unfortunately, there’s no projector in the world big enough to cover all nine letters at once, developers said. So instead, a 56,000-watt generator and lasers with 40,000 lumens powered each, the Los Angeles Times reported, noting the average home theater projector typically maxes out at 3,000 lumens.

“The technology doesn’t exist yet. But the technology exists for three letters,” an organizer told the Times, calling the experience "by far" their "number one" project.

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