Fact Friday #28 - Christmas Town USA


Happy Holidays Everyone!

If you haven’t driven through Historic McAdenville during Christmas season, you are seriously missing out. It is probably my single most favorite thing to do this time of year. I almost feel like I’ve missed out on Christmas altogether if I get to make the trip. Seriously folks, its impressive. And assuming you read this the day we send it out, you’ll have just two more nights to take in the sights (Christmas Day and the following Saturday). I’ll likely head over on Friday night to add the perfect cap to my Christmas Day! McAdenville is just west of Charlotte off both I-85 and Route 74, and like Charlotte, has quite a rich history with its roots in textiles, specifically cotton. We are proud to have “Christmas Town USA” right here in 704!

 In 1956, the idea of adorning a few trees with lights in homage to the Christmas season sparked a community passion for lighting up the skies with holiday spirit that is known today as Christmas Town USA. For 26 days (December 1 – 26) each year, McAdenville is alit in spectacular fashion with traditional red, white and green lights sparkling on more than 375 trees and decorating nearly all of the community’s homes. It is a sight to behold for both the young and young-at-heart as the town casts a warm holiday glow that draws more than 600,000 visitors annually - marveling in awe as they follow the wreath-lined route through the center of town in a celebration of Christmas that has been observed for nearly six decades.

 Each season, Christmas Town USA is officially kicked off in early December with the Tree Lighting Ceremony in honor of Mr. and Mrs. William James Pharr, founders of the McAdenville Christmas Lights. The Yule Log Parade, which began in 1949, pays tribute to the true community spirit that prevails within McAdenville as the entire town joins in on the log’s journey through town to Legacy Park. New to the celebration are Christmas Town Festival events featuring bands and choirs from local schools and churches, refreshments and a visit from Santa Claus to entertain and delight those in attendance.

Resident and visitor favorites of the walking and driving tour include the life-size nativity scene and a 46-foot lighted image of Old Man Winter blowing snowflakes into the festive reflections of tree-lit splendor. To add even more cheer, you can hear the melodic sounds of traditional holiday favorites from the chimes of the McAdenville Baptist Church, the 30-foot bell tower with an array of cast bronze bells located in the lawn of the Pharr Family YMCA, and McAdenville’s historic Bell Tower dating back to 1885, which today uses the magic of digital technology to broadcast music throughout the evening - making anyone who visits feel as though they have entered a wonderland unlike any place on earth.

Named by YAHOO in 2011 as one of the 10 Must-Visit Places in December, Christmas Town USA has been featured nationally on ABC’s Good Morning America, 700 Club, HGTV, MSNBC, Turner South Network, as well as in numerous magazines and news publications. Christmas Town USA has been featured in online, print and broadcast media in Europe.

6 Things you may not have known about McAdenville, even if you’ve visited a gazillion times:

 

  • The land on which McAdenville is located was originally owned by Adam Alexander Springs, who was in the first graduating class at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
  • Local legend has it that Adam Springs was the true biological father of Abraham Lincoln, whose mother Nancy Hanks was Springs’ housekeeper – until she abruptly moved away because of her relationship with Springs, who was married, and evidence that she would soon be bearing a child. While this is considered folklore, the resemblance of Adam’s son, Gratton Springs, to Linlcoln is uncanny.

Left: Gratton Springs. Right: Abraham Lincoln.

 

  • McAden Mills was a pioneering cotton factory considered to be the first truly modern textile mill of its time. It grew to be the largest in Gaston County through its innovative approach to operations. In 1883, Thomas Edison was hired to build a hydroelectric generator, No. 31 known as a dynamo, to power the lighting in the mill and mill houses. The mill’s textile innovations resulted in its woven fabrics being exported to as far as the West Indies, South America and the Philippines.
  • It has been reported to be the first electrically lighted textile mill in the world. In 1883, McAdenville became the first community in North Carolina with electric lights.
  • The first formal public kindergarten program in the state of North Carolina was launched at McAdenville Elementary School in the 1960s.
  • The late Thomas Kinkade, an American painter, added to McAdenville’s legacy of “firsts” when he selected McAdenville as his first and only town in North Carolina to be captured in his glowing brush strokes. It was fitting that this world-renowned “painter of lights” would immortalize McAdenville’s Christmas-time magic through his illuminating technique.

The painting, “The Lights of Christmastown,” was completed in 2007 with the original work now residing in a vault in California.

Until next week!

Chris.

Email me at chris@704Shop.com if you have interesting Charlotte facts you’d like to share or just to provide feedback!

Information taken from:

McAdenville official website: McAdenville, Old Town Charm. Inspired Living.

Additional commentary added 

“We have to do with the past only as we can make it useful to the present and the future.” – Frederick Douglass