The Wheel at ICON Park, a breathtaking, 400-foot tall, 40-story observation experience, is one of Orlando, Florida’s most awe-inspiring attractions. On June 12, 2022, the 64,000 color-changing LEDs of “the brightest beacon in the Orlando sky” were lit in a rainbow display in remembrance of the six-year anniversary of the Pulse nightclub attack in Orlando.
To commemorate the lives lost and heighten understanding for Orlando’s LGBTQ community, ICON Park, in partnership with iHeartMedia, has made the commemoration an annual event. “As the years pass, Orlando commemorates each anniversary. The Wheel at ICON Park is here for you,” notes the ICON Park website. “The Wheel changes colors and reminds us to stay united, remain strong, and support our Orlando family. Everyone on the ICON Park team loves you.”
Each year, a portion of ticket proceeds is earmarked for the onePulse Foundation, a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation established by the owner of Pulse nightclub to “create a sanctuary of hope following the tragic day in American history … to honor the 49 angels who were taken, the 68 others who were injured, and the countless first responders and health care professionals who treated them.”
Funds collected will endow “a memorial that opens hearts, a museum that opens minds, educational programs that open eyes, and legacy scholarships that open doors.” In addition to its financial  contribution, ICON Park distributed free commemorative photos and Orlando Strong hats to park visitors who participated in the event.
Per the onePulse website: “The National Pulse Memorial will be located on the site of Pulse nightclub with a complementary museum and education center approximately one-third of a mile from Pulse. Additionally, a Survivor’s Walk will trace the three-block journey many victims and first responders took the night of the tragedy to get to Orlando Regional Medical Center.”
While The Wheel’s 64,000-light rainbow display served as a fittingly fabulous tribute to all that onePulse hopes to accomplish, across the city of Orlando, a number of Pulse-themed programs took place that also did the cause proud.
In the days leading up to the June 12 anniversary — and beyond — those impacted by the tragedy and sympathizers from around the globe have been encouraged to join with One Orlando Alliance, City of Orlando, Orange County Government, and the onePulse Foundation in the ongoing Acts of Love and Kindness program. Other notable events included:
- The Sixth annual 4.9 CommUnity Rainbow Run & Family Festival presented by OrlandoHealth and Hard Rock International to benefit the onePulse Foundation took place. A virtual run, in which participants could join worldwide, was also held.
- St. Luke’s United Methodist Church held its Rally for a More Inclusive World, featuring conversations and artistic impressions focusing on the impact of local gun violence. The church also hosted an additional evening dedicated to An Honest Conversation About How the Church Loves Our LGBTQ+ Neighbors.
- The annual Hamburger Mary’s event, Straight Men Real Makeup, featured eight cisgender men performing a choreographed song-and-dance routine in drag to the tune of a $20 per-person donation to onePulse.
- On June 6, 2022, the University of Central Florida Social Justice and Advocacy Organization held an evening vigil in front of the main campus’ Millican Hall. The building was lit in the colors of the LGBTQ+ Pride flag during the ceremony. On the same day, the UCF Downtown Campus Remembers: Bridge Lighting Ceremony lit up the DPAC Bridge in rainbow colors in honor of the 49 lives lost during the Pulse tragedy.
- June 9, 2022, saw a lively and thought-provoking virtual discussion titled How to Talk with Children About Pulse Remembrance Week and Why It Matters. During the conversation, onePulse Foundation’s Barbara Poma and acclaimed My Tio’s Pulse children’s book author Keith Newhouse talked about the strategies we can use to help children and parents make sense of tragedy. Later in the day, Orlando Sings Symphonic Chorus in collaboration with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra presented a program of Maurice Duruflé’s “Requiem” and Andrea Clearfield’s “Tse Go La.”
- The Orange County Regional History Center hosted its Pulse Memorial Crosses event June 10 and 11. Meanwhile, the second annual United We Dance, a night of music and dance from BlueLaLa Entertainment, ran from 6 p.m. through midnight in honor of the resilience of Orlando’s LGBT community, first responders, Pulse survivors, and The 49. Running concurrently, the onePulse Foundation, in collaboration with Cultural Vistas, held its International Culture of Remembrance Symposium. The two-day event drew leading international scholars and experts in memorial culture. Speakers included representatives from OnePulse Foundation, Cultural Vistas, Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center, and the 9/11 Memorial & Museum, among others.
- The Dru Project’s Tropical Memorial Party, founded in honor of Pulse victim Drew Leinonen, held its annual drag brunch event on June 11, 2022, to raise funds for Florida’s LGBTQ+ youth.
- At noon on June 12, 2022, 49 Bells pealed in a ceremony held at First United Methodist Church of Orlando to commemorate the lives lost in the Pulse tragedy.
- On June 12, 2022, the onePulse Foundation’s six-year Pulse Remembrance Ceremony that took place at the Pulse Interim Memorial was streamed live via the group’s Facebook page.
With no admission and free parking, ICON Park (conveniently located near I-4, Florida’s Turnpike, and the Beachline Expressway) has become the center of the up-and-coming Orlando Entertainment District. Along with its designation as a premier entertainment destination, ICON Park proudly participates in a number of community-based causes. Along with hosting a number of charitable events each year, ICON Park regularly pays tribute to first responders, members of the military, and Florida teachers with special promotional rates.