Sarasota is showing its support of Ukraine in color.
City of Sarasota commissioners and The Florida Department of Transportation (FDOT), which maintains the John Ringling Causeway Bridge, have signed off on illuminating it in yellow and blue, the colors of the Ukrainian flag, through March 10.
Multiple resident calls helped put the action in motion.
Viktoria Warren, the owner of Victoria Blooms flower shop in Sarasota, was among them. Originally from Kyiv, Ukraine, she called the FDOT over the weekend to request the light modification of the bridge in response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and encouraged friends to do the same. Russian forces invaded the country on Feb. 24. Mass displacement, shelling and bombing, mounting civilian and military casualties and international sanctions have marked the days since.
The Ukrainian flag has two horizontal bands of yellow and blue. The colors represent the country’s blue skies and the yellow represents the wheat fields that characterize its land.
The symbolic move is meaningful. “You feel helpless when you see what’s happening," Warren says. "If we can just put some lights up, it’s something. It doesn't take much to let the people of Ukraine know we're thinking of them, and that we’re all on the same page."
The local efforts efforts paid off. "I've never seen so many emails or gotten so many calls about an issue as with this," says FDOT spokesperson Kristen Carson.
The yellow and blue lights will be on display for seven nights, from March 3 through March 10. The Sunshine Skyway Bridge connecting St. Petersburg to Terra Ceia, north of Sarasota and Manatee counties, is following suit from March 4 through March 10; other local, state and national landmarks are doing the same.