Light installation on Bay Bridge going dark until 2016

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Friday morning was the last time to enjoy the show from the iconic Bay Lights along the western span of the Bay Bridge. They're going away -- at least for a while.

The amazing lights are getting ready for one last show before taking a year-long break. There's a ceremony happening at 8 p.m. Thursday night and on Friday at sunrise, there will be a chance to say "so long" but not goodbye.

"The thing that has been the best is to watch the faces of the guests light up as the bridge lights up," Epic Roasthouse and Waterbar owner Pete Sittnick said.

Sittnick never dreamed lights on the Bay Bridge would bring customers in, but they have.

The installation has 25,000 computer-synchronized LED lights dancing and twinkling through the night, but not for much longer.

Customers may be upset, but Sittnick said, "We'll have to give everybody the spiel. We'll have to let them know they're coming back."

VIDEO: Temporary farewell ceremony held for Bay Bridge lights

When asked why the lights are going out, Illuminate the Arts' Ben Davis explains, "They have to go away for a few reasons. One, they're at the end of their two-year run. And then we'll reinstall a more robust set of LEDs that have literally been engineered to withstand the harsh conditions of San Francisco Bay over time."

Davis runs Illuminate the Arts, the group which helped the artist bring Bay Lights to the bridge.

VIDEO: Time-lapse of the Bay Lights installation

To make this iconic art piece permanent, $4 millions in private funds have been raised.

"I thought the Golden Gate was the thing here, but wow!" tourist Denise Smith said.

"I take them for granted. I'll just pass on by and sometimes I'll look. I don't appreciate it. But now that I know that it is going to be gone, I think I'll appreciate it more when I drive home tonight," East Bay resident Jennifer Sturtevant said.

When asked what San Francisco is going to do for a whole year without them, David replied, "I don't know what I'm going to do for a whole year. Truthfully, it leaves a hole in my heart and I think it's going to leave a hole in the night sky."

The new and improved lights will return for good as the Bay Area hosts Super Bowl 50 in 2016.
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