It amazes me every time a Chicago sports team finds itself poised to win a championship. Why? Because buildings around Chicago often will sport colors and messages showing their pride behind the franchise. And EVERY TIME, local television news anchors play dumb and ask "wow, how do they do that?" — completely forgetting that they ran the exact same story just a few years ago. But hey, it's what passes for local "news" these days, I guess.

Blackhawks and CNA Plaza (Source: CNA - Used with Permission)

Official Lighting Plan (Source: CNA - Used with Permission)

Negativity aside, Chicago is rather excited these days with the Blackhawks in the Stanley Cup Finals. And with that accomplishment comes a lighted window message on the CNA building. Now, if you've been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that my father — John Tanner — has worked as a building carpenter for many years at CNA.

Dad sets the blinds for a message (Photo by Steve Tanner, 12/31/06)

And oddly enough, beyond his carpentry duties, he also finds himself directly involved in making these window messages come to life… as you can see from our extensive CNA Lighted Window Message Archive here on the site.

Dad (left) and his boss Neal position cutouts in the windows (Source: Screenshot from

For New Year's Eve 2007, I actually joined Dad in a tour of the CNA building while they prepared a two-sided message for the New Year and the Chicago Bears. It was interesting to watch the process "up close and personal" as all the windows were set in place.

Dad grabs a ladder to setup the displays (Source: Screenshot from

Neal explains the "dots" marking strategy (Source: Screenshot from

Last year, CNA debuted their Blackhawks logo and it's returned once again for this year's Stanley Cup run. Interestingly, CNA's efforts have gained quite a bit more media attention this time around, with extensive video pieces being done by NBC5 and the Blackhawks' own website — and yes, I'm proud to say they feature my father making the magic come alive (albeit in the background, but still, very cool!)

Video: coverage on CNA Center

Video: NBC5 coverage on CNA Center

Flashback from 2005: NBC5 and FOX32 coverage on CNA Center

No matter how many times I see the CNA building light up, it always amazes me when I think about all the "low tech" processes at work simultaneously to pull the whole thing off!

For more building images, visit our…
CNA Plaza Lighted Window Message Archive