Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: The Man Who Brought Some Holiday Cheer To One World Trade Center Dec17

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Kicking Back With Jersey Joe: The Man Who Brought Some Holiday Cheer To One World Trade Center

It’s been over 9 years since the 9-11 terrorist attacks destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center.  Sadly, the last Christmas season celebrated there would have been in 2000, now 10 years ago.  Since that time, no significant sign of the holidays have appeared at the site, but thanks to one man that has all changed.

Rebuilding at the site continues even as you read this.  The area has become a 24 hour hub of activity.  Not even the recent frigid temperatures in New York have slowed the work on the newest tower, One World Trade.

Originally named the Freedom Tower in the wake of the attacks, the building is going up fast.  Construction officially began on April 27, 2006 and as of Tuesday, December 4, 2010, was 50 stories tall with cement being poured above the 42nd floor.

I travel through the World Trade Center site all the time on my way to and from work via the PATH train at the station that has reopened below.  A few weeks ago, I was walking home in the evening and noticed quite a different look coming from the new tower.  The floors are still wide open, with only a few of the levels in the 20’s now containing windows, but I couldn’t help but notice that many of the floors appeared to be a different color!

In fact, due to the generosity of one man, One World Trade Center has been turned into a giant Christmas tree!

Joe Russo is a journeyman electrician for Five Star Electric and is from Staten Island, NY who is working on the construction of the building and wanted to do something special for the holidays.

“The building was just white lights.  I wanted to make it look more like a Christmas tree.  Put some cellophane around it,” he told WCBS-TV, New York.

So Joe asked his foreman, who in turn asked his boss, who passed down the OK.  With that, he spent $100 to purchase multi-colored cellophane from Michael’s and scotch tape.

Spending 10 of his own hours in the cold, he covered 250 lights on 20 floors red, green, blue, purple, and yellow.

When asked about his color selection… “Whatever I could grab,” he told the Daily-News.

The lower floors covered in red, green, and purple signify multi-colored lights you would find on a tree.  The three blue floors are to celebrate Chanukah; while the two upper floors are yellow to signify candles.

The result is a much appreciated token of holiday cheer at the sad, dark site, and Russo is getting major applause from not only his co-workers, but New Yorkers and visitors alike.

Russo describes himself as a “regular Joe” and says he was inspired by the workers who erected a Christmas tree during the building of Rockefeller Center.  Russo recently took his wife to the site to admire his handy work.

Walking home through the site and construction as I do, I’ve noticed quite a few people looking up and checking out the display.  You can’t miss it.  Before, I was only looking up to see the Subway restaurant on a crane that would ride up the building for the workers.

How great is it that this man gave a few hours of his time and a hundred bucks to bring a little brightness and cheer that hasn’t been seen at the site in a decade?  Sometimes with the hustle and bustle of the season, we forget that even the simple things can matter and here is a prime example.  His selfless work and big heart really deserves a round of applause.  It’s a step in the right direction for rebuilding and is just the beginning of the rebirth of the World Trade Center site.

Work also continues on 4 World Trade opposite of the site (which also has a few strings of lights up. decorating a crane) as well as the museum and new PATH station below.  One World Trade is expected to top out in 2011 and will return the highest building in the US crown to New York, surpassing the Willis Tower in Chicago.

Let us never forget the tragedy that happened on 9-11, but if there are more people like Joe Russo out there, we can continue to move forward and rebuild.

THE 411


Location: New York City

Current Height: 50 floors and expected to rise to 102 floors

Owner: Port Authority of New York and New Jersey

Expected completion: after setbacks, now set to open in 2013.

JERSEY JOE RECOMMENDS: If you are planning a visit to New York, or travel near the area, swing by and check out this true spirit of the season.  The lights are on 24 hours and are best seen from street level at night, but can be seen from a distance.  Also, as we celebrate the holidays take a lesson from Joe Russo.  Give something of yourself to help others.  Sometimes, even a small deed of kindness can have a major impact.