highlight pacific wheel marriage proposal

Pop the question with flair at Santa Monica Pier’s famous Pacific Wheel.

Text by Marc Graser
Images courtesy of Pacific Park and ETC Hotels

Los Angeles loves being in the spotlight so it’s no surprise that it’s got a popular performer on the Santa Monica Pier’s Pacific Wheel. Rising 130 feet above the Pacific Ocean, it radiates at night with 174,000 LED lights creating vibrant shows of colors, shapes and messages. That last part is especially useful for anyone looking to come up with a memorable marriage proposal.

The idea to let the wheel be used as a real-life rom-com prop presented itself after Pacific Park installed a $1 million state-of-the-art lighting package on the Pacific Wheel’s 40 spokes and two hubs in 2016, enabling it to display over 16.7 million different color combinations and animate patterns and icons in 24 frames per second for high-resolution imagery.

The wheel is regularly used during holidays, scrolling a waving red, white and blue flag for the Fourth of July and Memorial Day; illuminating a giant pumpkin on Halloween, and counting down to ring in the New Year. The sides have featured logos to cheer on the LA Rams, Los Angeles Dodgers and LA Galaxy; and support for medical workers during the COVID-19 medical crisis. It was also lit gold to celebrate the grand opening of The Academy Museum of Motion Pictures.

It has gone dark, though, for Earth Hour, one of the largest global grassroots movements for the environment.

Renting the Pacific Wheel out to romantics was a no-brainer, but they need to plan ahead. As the lighting display grows in popularity, so do its bookings. Packages for custom proposal messages, offered by the concierge teams at Shutters on the Beach and Hotel Casa del Mar, start at $9,500. A simpler “Marry Me” is around $3,500. And making sure the special moment is recorded is an additional $3,500, and varies based on length, location and final editing. 

Many planners have taken up the park’s offer, using it to feature giant red and purple hearts, the words “Marry Me” and “Yes!” after a successful engagement. “Marry me, Katia?” once scrolled across the face of the wheel with massive 40-foot letters. 

Any message will certainly get noticed, with the Pacific Wheel jutting out into the Pacific Ocean, clearly visible up and down the beach. The pier is said to attract more than nine million visitors a year, and is one of the world’s most photographed attractions on Instagram.

Each whimsical design is manually animated by Pacific Park staff and can take hours to program. It’s even eco-friendly as the world’s only solar-powered Ferris wheel, with enhanced LED lighting providing 81 percent greater energy savings than the traditional incandescent bulbs on similar attractions, park reps say.

Now that’s worth beaming about.

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