The Roanoke Star, sits at the top of Mill Mountain in Virginia. It weighs 10,000 lbs. and its height is 88.5 feet, making it the world’s largest freestanding illuminated man-made star.
It was constructed in 1949 by Roy C. Kinsey, then owner of Kinsey Sign Co., along with his three sons, Roy Jr., Bob, and Warren. Bob and Warren designed and built the neon tubing still used today.
The Roanoke Merchants Association commissioned the project to serve as a seasonal, Christmas decoration to shine over the city during the holiday shopping season. The original plan was to dismantle the star when the holiday season ended.
The Roanoke Star was lit for the first time on Thanksgiving Eve, November 23, 1949, by then mayor A.R. Minton and earned Roanoke the nickname “Star City of the South”. It’s visible for 60 miles from the air and it sits 1,045 feet above the city of Roanoke.
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.
The star burns white year-round but is illuminated red, white, and blue on Memorial Day (May), Flag Day (June 14), July 4, Sept. 11, and Veteran’s Day (Nov. 11).
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