January 5, 1997 in Nation/World

‘Miracle’ Costs City, But Helps Charities

Associated Press

The crowds coming to see an image resembling the Virgin Mary on a glass office building are costing the city big bucks.

The faithful have numbered 450,000 - 4-1/2 times the city’s population - over the three weeks since the image was first noticed. And a city report put the tab at $40,000 for police to handle the crowds and traffic.

The document also tells of easily riled worshipers and votive candles that started fires, including one that burned a police officer.

Believers say it’s a miracle - a two-story image that appeared in rainbow hues on the side of the black-windowed building. Others say the image may have been there for months, possibly a chemical residue.

Onlookers already have left behind almost $30,000 in donations, turning the parking lot into a virtual shrine. The money has been distributed to local charities.

© Copyright 1997 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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