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Community Roots: Selections from the Local Legacies Project
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At the Main Mill Office, a tree decorated with all white lights
At the Main Mill Office, in front of a tree decorated with all white lights, there is placed a Yule Log, an annual tradition Photo: Steve Rankin

Christmas Town U.S.A.

Known as "Christmas Town," the quiet little town of McAdenville, which lies along the South Fork River in Gaston County, NC, comes alive each year as the holiday season draws near. The tradition of decorating evergreen trees with Christmas lights dates back to 1956 when the McAdenville Men's Club conceived of the idea of decorating a few trees around the McAdenville Community Center. From the nine trees decorated that first year, the effort had grown, in 1997, to more than 400 trees being decorated with more than 425,000 red, green, and white bulbs. Trees decorated ranged in height from four feet to more than 80 feet. Only live trees are used, with the number of lights per tree ranging from 500 to 5,000.

One of the favorite viewing sites is the lake in the center of the town, circled by 75 trees ranging in size from 15 to 30 feet. A fountain located in the center of the lake jets water 75 feet into the air. Overlooking the lake is a large -- 9 feet tall and 75 feet long -- display of Santa and his reindeer.

Lights glow nightly from December 1 through December 27. In 1997, over 300,000 vehicles passed through McAdenville, a town of only 832 residents. The year 2000 will mark the 45 anniversary of the light pageantry and tradition.

The project is documented with several pages of text from a web site, ten colorful 8 x 10 photographs, audio and videotapes and several copies of a brochure: "Christmas Town, U.S.A., 1999."

Originally submitted by: Sue Myrick, Representative (9th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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