Inaugural downtown Dalton Christmas tree lighting Saturday kicks off holiday events

Matt Hamilton/Daily Citizen-News

Candy Gentry, left, waves from the Rock Solid Youth Group float with her niece Savannah Carrell at the Christmas parade in downtown Dalton in 2018. There are several upcoming holiday events open to the community.

A new Christmas tradition is coming to Dalton.

On Saturday at 6 p.m., the inaugural Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony is scheduled at Burr Performing Arts Park at 101 S Hamilton St., across from the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce. At the free event, Mayor Dennis Mock will be light the tree and refreshments will be provided. Everyone is invited.

The Anderson Foundation, Believe Greater Dalton, The Community Foundation of Northwest Georgia and the Downtown Dalton Development Authority are the event sponsors.

The local holiday events continue Sunday as the Mount Rachel Star is lit at dusk. The star, which is at the top of Mount Rachel on the north end of Dalton, is owned and maintained by Dalton Utilities and shines brightly in the night sky from December through New Year's Day. This event links the history between Dalton Utilities and Hamilton House, at 701 Chattanooga Ave., which will be decorated and open from 2 to 5 p.m. for free tours. The Mount Rachel Star can be seen from the nearby Hamilton House.

A local tradition, the Mount Rachel star is a key part of local Christmas celebrations. Built in 1935 by the late Carl McCamy, former superintendent of Dalton Utilities, the original structure was a 30-foot tall wooden frame with 150 light bulbs attached to a pole. The temporary structure was placed on top of Mount Rachel each December, and has been lit every year since 1935, except during the blackouts during World War II. Each year, the star is officially "lighted" by a descendant of Carl McCamy or children of utility employees/retirees.

In 1947, V.D. Parrott Jr., former Dalton Utilities' president, and the Board of Water, Light and Sinking Fund Commissioners replaced the original wooden star with a permanent structure made of iron. The star was completely overhauled in 2005 when Dalton Utilities' personnel rebuilt the frame, replaced all the lights and rewired the structure. Now, the Mount Rachel Star measures 40 feet in diameter and towers 65 feet above the mountain. More than 230 bulbs give the star its glow, which can be seen several miles away. All the bulbs were replaced with LEDs in 2017, so the star now shines brighter.

On Thursday, the annual downtown Dalton Christmas Parade is at 6 p.m. The theme is “The Spirit of Christmas.” The Dalton Noon Lions Club has sponsored the parade since 1985.

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