On November 21, approximately 40,000 people will gather in Castle Rock, Colorado, to watch their town light up for the holiday season. Each year, the town gathers at the foot of the geological formation for which the city is named to watch a giant electric star light up above them.
The starlighting, a strong tradition in Castle Rock, has taken place nearly every year since 1936. According to the event website, the star was created as a way to attract people and bring revenue to the town which, like many other areas of the country, was struggling in the wake of the Great Depression.
The star has become a key part of Castle Rock's identity, as well as a source of pride for residents. "They're very proud of it," says Kim New, branch manager at the nearby Springleaf* branch in Englewood. Many of the customers from New's branch live in Castle Rock, so she had heard much about the event before she attended it for the first time last year. "They'll give you a whole history lesson [about the star and starlighting]...It's a big deal for them," she says.
And that's no surprise, given the spectacle of the event. As the lights of the 45-foot tall star turn on, fireworks go off overhead and holiday lights strung around the city are set alight. The town also celebrates with hot chocolate, ice skating, and live entertainment - including plenty of Christmas songs.
This year, Springleaf will be helping to sponsor the starlighting. New and other local Springleaf team members will also be celebrating there with the town and doing giveaways.
New is looking forward to meeting new people, talking to passersby, and spending time with her colleagues, especially because her branch has welcomed some new people to the team recently. "It's great for the branch to get together," she says. It is wonderful to be part of our community's tradition, one celebrated by all generations.
"They all kind of know their neighbors," New says. Even though lots of people attend, New says the event maintains a "small town feel," which you can't get in many places, especially close to the city of Denver.
Overall, she is looking forward to being part of the excitement of the event. "Everyone there is always so upbeat and so excited for the season."
"If more people came [from outside the town], they would love it. It's something you don't get to see everywhere you go."
For more information about the Castle Rock Starlighting, please visit the event website.
* Please note that Springleaf has changed its name to OneMain.