March 8, 2004 - First Light on the Chromatic Gate

On March 6th the sun rose in Santa Barbara at 6:21 AM. That is what it said in the paper. They know these things in advance. In fact, you can go to a number of websites and find out that on June 10, 2023, the sun will rise in Santa Barbara at 5:46 AM which happens to be the exact same time that sunrise will occur in Katmandu on September 9, 2013.   But of course the sunrise is not the same as when you can first see the sun, or even what time the first rays of light will gently stroke your cheek. It all depends on things like obstructions and weather.

On Saturday, the dedicated staff of edhat.com woke up early and drove down to the Chromatic Gate sculpture on the East Beach side of the Red Lion. The Gate is the multicolored rectangular arch that blends into the beach front landscape like a tiger at the petting zoo.   You canít miss it, unless maybe the sun is in your eyes. 

Herbert Bayer (1900 - 1985), who spent the last 10 years of his life in Santa Barbara, created the sculpture. It is 21 feet high, weighs 12.5 tons, was erected in 1991, and stands in an area dubbed Arco Circle after the company who donated the lionís share of the money for its construction.  Bayerís love of bright colors was inspired by the years he lived in Morocco.

Why was the dedicated staff interested in being at the Chromatic Gate before sunrise? Well, we wanted to watch the sunrise of course, and to witness the first ray of the sunshine strike against the man-made rainbow. Symbolism? Could be.

The dedicated staff had stopped at Winchellís Donuts on the way Ė half glazed, half chocolate. We had suggested on our daily contest page that people come down to the beach and watch the sunrise with us Ö the least we could do was provide food. As it turned out, one person showed up, but he passed on the donuts.

6:28 - glimmer of first light

At exactly 6:25, the edge of the sun could be seen rising above the cliffs that separate East Beach from Butterfly Beach.   The sun was orange.  Without any fanfare, it quietly ascended into the sky. At 6:28, the sun was high enough to cast a shadow on the Chromatic Gate and to make the edges of the sculpture glimmer.   And, before we knew it, the whole sculpture was covered in the light of the new day. This occurred at the exact moment we finished the donuts.  More symbolism. We donít know why.

Sunrise - Elvis PresleyThere were two edhat.com subscribers who chose 6:28 as the time the sunlight would first touch the Chromatic Gate. The dedicated staff decided to split the prize in two. YogiBear wins free movie tickets.  ElvisPresleyEd wins a pound of Santa Barbara Cafť coffee (courtesy of Gallery Paseo Nuevo). BTW, there is a CD of Elvisí greatest hits called Sunrise. Coincidence?


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