THE STAR ON THE MOUNTAIN*

9Behold, the star which they had seen in the East went before them, till it came and stood over where the young Child was. 10 When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy. 11 And when they had come into the house, they saw the young Child with Mary His mother, and fell down and worshiped Him. And when they had opened their treasures, they presented gifts to Him: gold, frankincense, and myrrh” – Mat 2:9-11 (NKJV)

Plenty of places light a star atop their tree for the holidays. This is Alaska, and Anchorage does it a little bigger. The holiday tree lighting takes place in Town Square on the day after Thanksgiving, but the star everyone looks for is 14 miles away. You can’t miss it. The star is on the side of a mountain and stretches 300 feet across the slopes of the Chugach.

Summit Star lights on the mountain in Anchorage, Alaska
U.S. Air Force photo/Senior Airman James Richardson

The star comes on every year in late November right about the day of Anchorage’s own tree lighting. Its 350 bulbs stay lighted [from late November] until the final musher [dog sled races] are finished. This is a widely observed tradition for many Alaskans when it comes to decorating for the holidays. [The star is also lit on September 11.] The lights that form the star are maintained by work crews of the Joint Air Force Base Elmendorf Richardson, which controls Mount Gordon Lyon and the land surrounding the star.

The tradition began in 1958 when an Army captain at the nearby missile site placed a modest, 15-foot wide star atop the guardhouse for Christmas. The missile site was decommissioned in the late 1970s. The star however, has been redesigned, relocated and enlarged through the years. Once just a single point of light in the mountains, the outline of the star near Arctic Valley is now clearly visible from downtown Anchorage, almost 14 miles away.

[In an article attributed to Staff Sgt. Mike Campbell, 477th Fighter Group, Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, it was noted in the ‘Anchorage Daily News’, that U.S. Army Captain, Douglas Evert, Commander of B Battery, Fourth Missile Battalion, 43rd Artillery, had his men construct the star at the end of the Cold War. It originally rested on the roof of the gatehouse of Site Summit, the location of the Nike Hercules missile battery.]

The five-pointed star is a beacon all winter long in Anchorage, one of the brightest of many Anchorage winter traditions. [Some say it can be seen from Google Earth.]

When they saw the star, they rejoiced with exceedingly great joy

*Article at http://www.anchorage.net copied here with additional notes in brackets

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