The Mill Mountain Star has become the symbol of the Roanoke Region. It began as a Christmas decoration in the 1940s to inspire holiday shopping. The idea went from inception to fruition in the span of about four months, unheard of by today’s standards. On that November night in 1949, local dignitaries came out to ceremoniously flip the switch. At one time it was the largest neon star, even though it no longer holds that distinction it still draws thousands to its overlook.
This edition of Looking Back has one of the last interviews with the three Kinsey Brothers, whose family business helped build the Star. They had no idea when it was lit for the first time that it would even turn on or what it would come to mean to the region.
Many marriage proposals have occurred under its light and almost as many couples have celebrated their weddings and receptions at the park. It has evolved from that holiday decoration into a community mood barometer, changing colors from white to red to red-white-and-blue, during times of mourning and celebration.
Looking Back was a historical documentary series produced for Cox Communications by our parent company New Moon Creative Media, LLC, to tell the stories of the region’s landmarks.
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