Loudon is currently building a 40-foot-tall, eight-point Christmas star. It will be visible from the east side of Hospital Hill as motorists cross the Highway 11 bridge to get into downtown.
The star was inspired by holiday cheer, Mark Harrell, Loudon Facilities Maintenance Department director, stated.
“It’s just a bright, twinkling light in the sky,”Harrell stated. “I hope we have a lot of people to come see this.”
Loudon Parks and Recreation Department project assistant Jeff Trout said that there is an 80-foot, five point star in Roanoke (Va.), but that attraction is only open year round. Loudon’s could be the largest eight-point star. Trout oversees the city’s Christmas lights and decor.
“Ours is more like nativity Christmas,”Trout said.
Loudon city manager Ty Ross stated that he had never heard of a Loudon star like it before.
“It’s kind of cool what they put together,” Ross said. “The view from the bridge coming from the lake. … It makes sort of a grand entrance, especially during the holidays.”
He said that many communities have a similar event, or amenity. “especially those that have a high point.”Loudon had several sites that were easily accessible and the city “wanted to take advantage of it,” Ross said.
Harrell is hopeful that the star will be in place within 30 days. It could even stay up until mid January.
The star will weigh 600 to 800 pounds and have 1,200 LED light. It will also be attached to a utility pole measuring 60 to 65 feet. This pole is located at the top Hospital Hill, Loudon’s highest point. The star will stand 40 feet tall and be 30 feet wide.
Harrell stated that each light will be equivalent in power to a 30-watt to 40 watt incandescent lightbulb. Harrell claimed that the star could shine bright enough to allow planes to land in downtown Loudon during a Loudon City Council workshop.
“We want to be able to see it from the space station,”Rick Castle, facilities and maintenance manager, laughed.
Trout and Castle are supporting the project.
Harrell stated that the wooden pole holding the star will be buried about 8 feet in the ground, and the bottom will be between 8-15 feet above the pole.
“The top of the star, we hope, will not extend beyond the top of the pole,”Harrell stated.
The star will consist of 1.5-inch square steel tubing and 2-inch square steel tubing. Each section will be equipped with lights and plugs to aid assembly and disassembly.
Andy Lawson (city maintenance workers) are welding and cutting stars.
City employees stated that the project is a team effort and involves Harrell, maintenance, parks and recreation employees, as well as Loudon Utilities Board.
“What’s really neat about this project is you’ve got everyone involved,”Trout said.
“It’s a worthy project that every one was able to stack hands on,”Ross was added.
City workers built a prototype version smaller than 20 feet of the Christmas star to test Thursday’s brightness and direction.
Ross stated Monday that the testing was successful for employees.
Employees are busy preparing the star and getting ready for Christmas at Loudon Municipal Park. Castle reported that it featured 100,000 lights last Christmas.
“Our goal was to put something new up every day,”Castle. “You could see something new every day.”
Trout stated that the goal this year was to light the municipal park on Nov. 24.
Christmas in the Park, Dec. 10, will feature Santa Claus, hay rides and roasted marshmallows. The park will have a smaller prototype of the Christmas star.