My hometown of Roanoke, Virginia has many things that make it unique, but perhaps tops among them is the enormous neon star perched atop one of the mountains that ring the city. The Mill Mountain Star is, in fact, the world’s largest man-made free-standing star. (Contrary to what my sister Erin once thought, the world’s largest man did not make the star.) It was erected in 1949 as a kickoff to the Christmas shopping season, but it was so popular it didn’t take long for the City to realize the Star needed to stay lit year round. Thanks to that star Roanoke is now known as the “Star City of the South.” When I was a child the Star would be lit all in red if there was a traffic fatality that day. And to this day, as I follow the curve of 581 into town and towards my parent’s house, seeing the Star is the signal that I am really home
My daughter, it seems, is equally enamored with the Star. Barely an hour into our eight hour drive north to visit my family, she starts asking when we will see the Mill Mountain Star. On the last night of our stay in Roanoke last week, my father gave Lola the best surprise ever – a night time trip up Mill Mountain to see the star in all it’s full sized glory. She squealed all the way up the mountain and was in awe of just how huge the star really was on top of the mountain, how tiny it looks from down in the valley.
Grandaddy really does know how to spoil his girl.