Those old-fashioned days when a Philadelphia merchant thought of a great promotional idea allowing kids to come and visit Santa in his store (conveniently located in the toy department), and Montgomery Ward created Rudolph the Red-Nose Reindeer as a promotional tool, with a full-color picture book given out with every order.
Roanoke Virginia (our nearest little "big" city) had a creative Christmas merchandising idea: 60 years ago tonight for the first time they built and illuminated the Mill Mountain Star, a 100-foot-tall neon star, stuck at the top of Mill Mountain, overlooking the valley.
Previously, all Mill Mountain had was an incline railroad, which is long-gone today, but if you now where to look, the tree lines can still be seen. Today, there has been occasional mention of reinstating the incline, but so far it hasn't happened.
Shortly after the star was finished in 1949, this is what it looked like. Behind it you can see the Franklin County valley stretching towards Rocky Mount. In front of the Star is the scenic overlook.
Originally, the neon lights were red and white. During the Bicenntennial, blue was added. During the Virginia Tech shootings, the star shone all white. The star is turned on from dusk to midnight, and can be seen for 60-75 miles from airplanes. In 1999, this big Christmas decoration was placed on the National Register of Historic places. Long before this, the city had adopted its nickname from the neon structure: the Star City.