Beebo Wallace

Beebo Wallace

Posted on 08/11/2007

Photo taken on August 11, 2007


the roanoke star
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roanoke star

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The Roanoke Star

The Roanoke Star
The Roanoke Star
Roanoke, VA

At 8:22 p.m. on November 23, 1949, a chilly Thanksgiving Eve, Roanoke Mayor, A.R. Minton, threw a switch and illuminated the Roanoke Star for the first time. It was over 50 years ago Roanoke earned the nickname, "Star City of the South," and the star has been a part of the landscape of Mill Mountain ever since.

Why was the "Star" constructed in the first place?
The purpose for erecting the star was to serve as a seasonal, Christmas decoration to shine over the city during the brisk holiday shopping season of 1949. The project was sponsored by the Roanoke Merchants Association. The original plan was to dismantle the star when the holiday season ended. John Payne, a Roanoke native and, at the time, a Hollywood leading man, came to Roanoke to add his celebrity status to the formal lighting ceremony. Less than 100 people braved the cold night to stand under the star as it was switched on.

Who built it?
Roy C. Kinsey, then owner of Kinsey Sign Co., built it along with his three sons, Roy Jr., Bob, and Warren. Bob and Warren designed and built the neon tubing still used today. Originally, the star shone only in white, but is currently glowing in red, white and blue due to the tragic events of 9/11. The "Star" is actually three stars - a small star in the center, enveloped by a larger, mid-sized frame, and surrounded by the largest outer frame. Each frame contains three to five sets of clear neon tubes.

Star Facts:
Height of star 88.5 feet
Weight of star 10,000 lbs
Height above sea level 1,847 feet
Height above city 1,045 feet
Visibility from air 60 miles
Cost to build $28,000

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