Orlando Strong

Manufacturers partner with Media 1 and others to memorialize Pulse nightclub victims.
Coutesy of Dix.Hite + Partners

On June 12, 2016, Omar Mateen, a 29-year-old security guard, entered the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, FL, and killed 49 people and wounded 53 others in a terrorist attack like no other to that date.

This horrific event propelled Orlando into the worldwide spotlight with headlines far different than what it had been known for. This news struck us personally very hard, as Media 1 has been friends with Pulse owners Barbara and Rosario Poma for years. 

We were very moved when we were asked to join in helping construct an interim memorial located on the old nightclub property. The Pomas have decided to keep the property and dedicate it as a longstanding memorial to the victims, their families and survivors. 


Joining forces with landscape architect Dix.Hite + Partners (Longwood, FL), Jones Clayton Construction (Orlando, FL) and a host of other local businesses and groups, we began assembling this interim memorial space, which will stand for the next two to three years while permanent plans are devised and enacted.

We were called upon for several different elements of the project, most of it revolving around the use of a ton of polycarbonate. Our main task was to take the existing 24-ft.-tall, two-pole roadside pylon sign and turn it into something on which visitors could write notes, thoughts, prayers and encouragement. 

To that end, a 2-in. aluminum angle “cage” was built surrounding the two sign poles. The cage is 8 x 2 x 10 ft. and bolted in place on the existing concrete footer base. We then sheeted the cage with 3/8-in. frosted polycarbonate panels that measured 2 ft. wide and 5 ft. tall. We installed eight panels on each side of the pylon base and four more sheets on the sides of the pylon cage, completely surrounding the whole sign like a big frosted pole cover. Once the panels are full of handwritten notes, they can easily be removed and displayed in the Orange County Regional History Center, while new, blank polycarbonate face panels are installed around the sign. 


Manufacturers partnered with Media 1 and others to memorialize Pulse nightclub victims.
Manufacturers partnered with Media 1 and others to memorialize Pulse nightclub victims.

All companies involved in the project completely donated their labor, time and materials to bring this memorial to fruition. We called upon our friends at Piedmont Plastics’ Daytona, FL branch to see if they would be willing to donate some of the poly sheets to the cause. Piedmont’s Sharen Helton ran the idea up the corporate ladder, then brought global manufacturer Palram Americas (Kutztown, PA) into the mix. And in a generous gesture, Piedmont and Palram donated all needed polycarbonate to the project – and had it on our floor the very next week!

And we’re not talking a few little pieces either. We’re talking a dozen sheets of 80 x 120 x 3/8-in. clear poly. Very big, very heavy, very expensive sheets and – completely donated. I was blown away. 

But we didn’t stop there! Jones Clayton mentioned lighting the interior of our sign cage, so we volunteered to install Hanley G-1270 LED modules inside. These large, single-bulb LEDs feature a 40° directional beam, perfect for perimeter lighting any size cabinet sign. We mounted several rows of these units, blasting light down to the ground, effectively illuminating our entire poly cage. 

But we also needed to “frost” these panels while still allowing light transmission. Enter our buddies at 3M and their Envision Diffuser Film 3735-50. With its milky white appearance and dramatic 50% transmission of interior light, it was a perfect solution for this project and, of course, 3M donated all of this product to the cause as well! 

After our brand new 7 x 12-ft. MultiCam Apex Series Router made short work of those 80 x 120-in. sheets, our vinyl production god, Scott Schmierer, fed each of the 20 cut panels through the laminator, applying the Envision film with the perfect amount of pressure for a flawless application.

We took the panels to the job site and used Tek screws in pre-drilled holes to install the panels onto the aluminum cage (Envision film facing inward). Finally, we dropped in the cage’s top panel, already lit with the G-1270 LEDs, hooked them into the existing sign electric and voila! A beautiful, massive “Etch A Sketch” for visitors to record thoughts and prayers, and show their love after this senseless, tragic event. 

Thank you to all of our industry partners who saw to it that these materials were donated. We are so proud of our industry and so grateful to be a small part of this amazing project.

Show your support for this community on social media using #OrlandoStrong.


Signs of the Times February 2019

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