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United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s torch sculpture, standing at the intersection of Woodward and Jefferson, will remain lit permanently as part of an energy-saving project.

Originally powered by natural gas and lit for ceremonial purposes only, the abstract sculpture has now been converted to a 400-watt LED electrically lit wire and its base has been completely re-skinned, United Way spokeswoman Laura Rodwan said.

The torch was symbolically lit annually in the fall to coincide with the charity’s giving campaign kick-off, but can now be illuminated year-round and serve as a beacon of hope and cooperation, she said.

Created by sculptor Dario Bonucchi and dedicated in 1969, the sculpture is listed in the Smithsonian American Art Museums’ National Art Registry.

United Way officials say the conversion honors the past, while embracing the future of green technology.

“A diverse group of organizations came together to make electrification of the torch happen. They dedicated their time, talent and money to this project because they support the goals of United Way and are dedicated to being a part of its work in improving social conditions and solving complex problems,” said Dr. Herman B. Gray, United Way for Southeastern Michigan’s president and CEO.

Companies that contributed to the refurbishing of the torch in 2015 include are Acolyte Industries, Associated Print & Marketing, Brickman Group, C.L. Rieckhoff Co. Inc., Clarus Lighting & Controls, Downtown Detroit Partnership, DTE Energy, Guideline Mechanical, IBI Group, Judd Industrial Contracting, MIG Construction, Motor City Electric, Ross Structural Steel and United Way for Southeastern Michigan.

JChambers@detroitnews.com

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