The Christmas Star along the lower portion of the Craig’s Creek Valley is back, and the owner, Kevin Riddle, wants everyone to drive by to see and enjoy it.
Back in the mid-1960s, Kevin’s father, John, had the idea to build a large steel frame star for a Christmas decoration and place it up on the hill beside his home. He used several strings of outdoor Christmas lights but changed the colored bulbs to clear ones. The distance was such that for a power cord, he had to use a roll of house wire to make an extension cord.
“As a boy, I can remember Daddy welding it up, out in the backyard,” Kevin remembered. “I was fascinated how all these angled pieces all came together to form the five-point star shape.”
The star was visible for about a mile down the valley toward Eagle Rock on several county roads. The star fixture became a holiday tradition in the area. Unfortunately, the wiring deteriorated after several decades, and the base needed repairs. It was retired from use about 20 years ago.
In recent years, Kevin took a renewed interest in the star and started to work on reconditioning it in his spare time.
“The most difficult task operating it was getting up in the air to change the light bulbs because the star was on a fixed base,” Kevin added. “When I was little, Daddy would hold a ladder up against it, and I would climb up to the change bulbs. The most difficult bulbs to reach were the outer arm points.”
Last year, he designed and built a folding base to overcome the bulb-changing problem. In the 2020 season, some folks may have seen a dimly lit star—that was a test run while Kevin worked out the bugs in his new designs and test new light fixtures. This season, putting other work in his shop aside for December, he made a final push to finish the new installation and joyfully completed everything on December 15.
The star’s lighting consists of 50 bulbs of seven watts each.
“I choose to stay with incandescent type bulbs because they make give the star an old-fashioned look,” Kevin continued. “Being an electrician, it was easy for me to design the wiring and especially calculate what size of an extension cord I really needed for the distance from my home to the star.”
Riddle says that this year, the star is as good as new and wants its simplicity to remind the community of the true meaning of Christmas. He invites everyone to drive by to see it, and he hopes to renew the tradition of lighting it every season for a new generation of folks. The star will be illuminated nightly thru December 31.
The star is located about two miles up Route 615, off Route 220 at Eagle Rock. Visitors will begin to see it about a half-mile away, twinkling through the trees.