If you have ever came through Estill County in December, you have seen the remarkable Christmas Star that sets atop Rockhouse Mountain, also known as Star Mountain, located in Irvine.
The star is roughly 17 ft tall and is lit annually each year around mid-November and stays lit through the first of the year. It has been a holiday tradition for the community for many years now as the first star was erected in the early 1960s and then a second, larger star double the size of the original replacing it in the mid 1970s.
The recent forest fires that swept through Estill County just days ago left many residents questioning if the star had been damaged by the fires and if it would be able to be lit this year. Well, according to James Gross (Mayor of the City of Irvine), the star and site it sets on sustained no damage from the fires which only occurred on the back side of the Rockhouse Mountain.
So despite the devastating forest fires that surrounded the area, the star was miraculously untouched and shines on this year once again! Mayor Gross, along with Calvin Plowman (Street Foreman, City of Irvine) and Cody Beckler (Street Worker, City of Irvine) hiked the mountain on November 21st to complete the lighting of the star and by the end of that day, the star shined bright for Christmas once again over the City of Irvine.
However, the three had to spend most of that day making repairs to the star due to vandalism. According to Mayor Gross, repairs due to vandalism is a yearly occurrence, with some years being worse than others. The star is attached to a tower that is anchored in a rock atop the mountain, so they had to climb onto the star itself and replace 20-25 bulbs as well as rewire a section of the electrical wiring which had all been damaged by vandals throughout the year.
Gross also stated that the lights were replaced with LED bulbs which is why the star is shining much brighter than in previous years when regular incandescent bulbs were used. Despite the odds that weighed against the annual lighting of the star, from forest fires that came close to the area and vandalism, the star is now lit and shining over the community once again for all the residents of Estill County and visitors to enjoy for the holidays.
If you’ve never seen the star at night, its worth the trip.