The brightly lit trees provide a soothing relief to my mild winterblues. The unusually cold winter night did not bother me as I was walking on the streets lined with wreaths. It is a spectacle to behold staged by the entire community who willingly participates in a stark contrast to the commercial holiday season decorations of New York City. This is McAdenville, which is fondly called as Christmastown of USA for its Christmas tradition of decorating almost all the houses with lights in the colors of red, green and and white between Dec 1st and Dec 26th. Added to that, there are 375 trees lit up and 200 wreaths placed on city light posts. This town was added to the National Register of Historical Places in 2009.
It all started in 1956 when McAdenville men’s club devised a plan to decorate 9 trees with the lights. Supported by the Pharr Yarns, the largest employer in the town, since then it has become a tradition where this small textile town turns into a heaven on earth. Every year, one student of the McAdenville elementary school gets an opportunity to turn on the switches for the display lights on Dec 1st. The lights are automatically lit at 5:30 pm and 9:30 pm on weekdays and 5:30 pm to 11:00 pm on weekends.
I had spent the holiday season in the previous years going to tropical places complimented by a day or 2 in the New York city soaking in the lights to fight off my mild winterblues. This year I stayed home and was looking for a local place to go when I stumbled upon McAdenville in Gaston county in NC, a suburb of both Charlotte and Gastonia.
So I made plans to travel to McAdenville on Christmas eve. I reach there before the lights gets turned on automatically at 5:30 pm. As I walk, the cars had started their “bumper-to-bumper” traffic parade. I understand this is the case every day. The license plates of the cars are from different states of USA, even as far as Oregon. As I walk around, the crowds had started to gather near the pond area. Owners of a house play santa for little children in a small sleigh placed in their house lawn and a line gather with little children and their parents for a photographic opportunity with the “santa’. I chat with a resident who is more curious to know where I was from. When I mention I am from Chapel Hill, NC, the topic veers towards Tar Heels and UNC. After few minutes of our interesting little conversation, he moves aside for me to take a picture of his house. Many of the localities are restricted for the tourists offering privacy to the residents. I see police officers from many neighboring towns assemble for the security of the town near the firestation. As I walk to the main street the crowds had thinned out probably due to the unusual cold weather though the road is crowded with the cars. All the restaurants and shops were closed, being the Christmas eve. Fully satisfied and wanting to grab a quick dinner, I walk back to the parking lot in the McAdenville Elementary school, where I had parked due to the convenience of getting out of the town quickly without getting stuck in the traffic and head to Gastonia, where I had booked my hotel for the night.
Park your car in the McAdenville elementary school for easy get away from the town.
Walking is the best way to see the town and get proper photographs.
Reach McAdenville before the lights are turned on as you get parking space easily
Carry food and drinks with you as it is a small town and the restaurants are filled quickly
Hotels are available in Gastonia and Charlotte. I stayed in Gastonia.
Franklin Street – Food Haven in the RTP – VisitNC-1 – http://randomvoyager.com/franklin/