BALTIMORE (WJZ) — If a monument is lit in the city and no one is around to see it does it still shine?

“Normally we would be getting ready for 15,000 people to come and fill these parks up with the holiday village and this year we’re not allowed to do any of that,” said Michael Evitts, of the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore.

A behind-the-scenes look at the 49th annual Monument Lighting at Baltimore’s Washington Monument. The event was held virtually due to COVID-19.

But a lack of fanfare, doesn’t mean a 49-year tradition has to end.

“In a year when so many other things have been disrupted it felt emotionally important for this event to happen,” Evitts said.

WJZ Holiday Spectacular: 49th Annual Baltimore’s Washington Monument Lighting

So on a windy November morning, a crew got to work stringing the Washington Monument with 8,400 LEDs.

“The lights themselves used to use a ton of energy now they’re super efficient LED build,” Evitts said. “So we have more bulbs that burn brightly and they use less energy than your cell phone.”

While the Downtown Partnership of Baltimore owns the lights, the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy is responsible for putting them up, a process that was overhauled when they renovated the monument.

PHOTOS: Washington Monument Holiday Lighting; WJZ Holiday Spectacular

“We had observed that the previous lighting attempts had done a lot of damage to the monument,” said Lance Humphries, of the Mount Vernon Place Conservancy. “Since we knew it was such an important tradition, that was going to go on every year, we designed a whole new electrical system as well as a structural system to hang the lights.”

A track system where the lights are attached is now clamped to the monument eliminating the need for bolts, with the electric running underneath.

A behind-the-scenes look at the 49th annual Monument Lighting at Baltimore’s Washington Monument. The event was held virtually due to COVID-19.

The Show Must Go On: Months Of Planning Lead To COVID-Safe Virtual Holiday Lighting Of Baltimore’s Washington Monument

“It’s simple, safe and kind of effective to do the job,” Humphries said.

The process of actually hanging the lights is not for the faint of heart. Two men climb all 227 steps to the top of the monument, lower a rope — which is attached to a sting of lights — that they then haul back up.

So does it still shine if you’re not there to see it? Some would say this year, it shines brighter than ever.

Sean Streicher