The Whole of the Moon

"The Whole of the Moon." Photo by Rick Stachura. December 28, 2023.




I saw the rain dirty valley.

You saw Brigadoon!

I saw the crescent.

You saw the whole of the moon!




Lyrics from “The Whole of the Moon” by The Waterboys, 1985.

Photo by Rick Stachura. The 5th Avenue Snowflake. December 28, 2023.

Blazing 50 feet above 5th Avenue and 57th Street, the 5th Avenue Snowflake is 16,500 crystal light fixtures whose branches flash some 600 full-spectrum LEDs. The Flake has held its annual holiday perch here for the past 29 years — except during the pandemic seasons of 2020 and 2021. Douglas Leigh (1907-1999), New York’s pioneering outdoor advertiser, first brought it here to beautify the intersection in 1984. Leigh is perhaps best remembered for creating the huge billboard of a man puffing on a Camel cigarette from the facade of the old Claridge Hotel (1911-1970) on Broadway and West 44th Street. That icon blew smoke rings into Times Square for 26 years — from 1941 to 1966. This one, however, has been more enduring. 

When Leigh died in 1999, he willed the Flake to George Stonbely, the proprietor of Spectacolor, another outdoor advertiser. At the time, his most famous contribution to Times Square was partnering with Sony to affix the world’s first Jumbotron sign on the side of One Times Square in 1990. He later became a founding director of the Times Square Alliance (Business Improvement District) and helped open the outpost of Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum on 42nd Street.

Under the guise of his Stonbely Family Foundation, George dedicated the Flake to UNICEF — the United Nations Children’s Fund — in 2001. Since then, UNICEF’s annual Snowflake Ball staged at venues around the City like Cipriani on Wall Street has raised more than $60 million. According to UNICEF’s website, the funds “save and improve children’s lives” in “more than 190 countries and territories.” Stonbely’s company is now called Spectacular Ventures.




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