"Emerald" State Building Thrills Iranian Activists

City to be bathed in green light Thursday night

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    NEWSLETTERS

    AP
    The Empire State Building will glow green this Thursday, but for Dorothy, not Mahmoud -- even if they're both living in a fantasy world.

    Iranian activists campaigned all week to have the Empire State Building bathe the city in green in protest of President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's visit to the United Nations. Their request was rejected.

    But, like Dorothy clicking her heels together three times, the Persian protesters will ultimately get their wish -- thanks to "The Wizard of Oz."

    The spire of the landmark building will shine green Thursday night in honor of the iconic fantasy film's 70th anniversary. Elated Iranians have sent out e-mail blasts to announce that the city will bask in their trademark color, and many plan to set up camp under the Empire State Building and celebrate when it lights up, reports The Wall Street Journal.

    Photo journalists who have been in town all week shooting the protests against Ahmadinejad plan to publish the sight of the green-lit Empire State Building online to engage those around the world, according to the WSJ.

    Some excited Iranians are already blasting the blogosphere in anticipation of the event.

    "The universe is smiling and the stars are aligned!" scribed one blogger named Anonymous Iran, according to the WSJ. "I'm so happy I could cry."

    While the Empire State Building will be lit green in honor of Dorothy and Toto, it just so happens the green lighting will occur on the same day protesters plan to spread out a nearly mile-long green banner across the Brooklyn Bridge, reports the WSJ.

    It doesn't matter why the Empire State Building will be lit green on Thursday, however. It only matters that it will.

    Demonstrators "consider anything that's green part of our movement," Sadra Shaba, a 24-year-old grad student and protest organizer for Voices for Iran, told the WSJ. "Even the Statue of Liberty is green."

    The colors atop the Empire State Building have long been used to signify important occasions, --  white and blue on the anniversaries of the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001; Navy and white when the Yankees win the World Series; or lavender and white for Gay Pride Week -- and a slew of holidays. The building even shone green on Sunday to mark the culmination of Ramadan.

    Now Iranians in the Big Apple and abroad are buzzing about how New York is "Going Green" this week -- a saying they've adopted to reflect the opposition movement led by Mir Hossein Mousavi, the primary contender against Ahmadinejad in the summer presidential elections, which were spoiled by allegations of vast fraud.

    Mary Goldwater, a demonstrator with Project Greenlight, which asks people to turn on green lights at night, said she filed a request with the Empire State Building a few weeks ago.

    But Goldwater got a reply Sept. 18 rejecting her request. The Empire State Building Co. LLC, which makes decisions on lighting, wouldn't elaborate on why it rejected Goldwater's request, but insiders said the building tries to remain neutral in political disputes, according to the WSJ.

    Fortunately, "The Wizard of Oz" anniversary "kind of works to our advantage," Goldwater told the paper.

    Warner Bros. Entertainment, which is hosting the "Emerald Gala" in celebration of the movie's milestone, had no comment.