Lititz’s diamonds Christmas star tradition started in 1937

By on December 19, 2012

By: RON REEDY Special to the Record Express, Staff Writer

Photo courtesy of Ron ReedyIn 1945, Burgess Victor Wagner suggested lighting up the entire central section of Lititz in honor of local soldiers returning from World War II.

Christmas in Lititz is not complete without the classic star ornaments on the downtown streetlights. This year marks their 75th anniversary as a local tradition.

The first known community Christmas tree appeared at the Lititz Memorial Square in 1915, marking the start of Christmas decorations in downtown Lititz. In 1936, the decorations went beyond Memorial Square as two evergreen trees were attached to each of the 40 Washington Boulevard light standards in the business section. They were illuminated at night with different colored light bulbs. The Lititz Chamber of Commerce was the originator of this new Yuletide decorative treatment.

For the first time, in 1937, through the efforts of the Chamber, 10 large star-shaped frames with colored lights (symbolic of Moravian stars) were placed throughout the Memorial Square area.

Christmas decorations of 1938 featured a huge and brightly lighted star suspended high in the air directly over the fountain at the square in such a way that it could be seen from a considerable distance. Additional stars were placed on light standards near Memorial Square as well as along Broad and Main streets. Another feature in 1938 was a Christmas Eve service at the square, which included a community carol sing, now held in Lititz Springs Park, usually on the first Friday in December. In 1939, 10 new stars were added.

On Dec. 7, 1940 the principle business streets of Lititz were bathed in a bright glow of white lights. A total of 22 new stars were completed under the direction of Robert Hower, industrial arts teacher at Lititz High School. With the new stars, a total of 38 were placed on the light standards along Broad and Main. Also, each standard was decorated with evergreen trees.

In 1944, it was decided that only lighted Christmas decorations would be placed around Memorial Square and that the Yuletide stars on the light standards throughout the business section would not be used until after the war. However, five stars were placed on light standards which surrounded the square.

In early November of 1945, a total of 38 stars, each containing a total of 30 colored bulbs, were placed on light standards along Broad Street, from Orange Street to Lincoln Avenue, and along Main Street, from the square to Cedar Street. The move to have the entire central section of Lititz lighted for Christmas was launched by Burgess Victor Wagner.

"This is one year, with so many of our boys home and more returning everyday, Lititz must have as fine a Christmas decorations as ever," Wagner declared. "We have had enough brown-outs and black-outs, so now let’s have a good old-fashioned Christmas for a change."

Today, there are 48 stars placed on the downtown Washington Boulevard light standards along Broad Street, from Lincoln Avenue to Orange Street, and along Main Street, from Memorial Square to Linden Hall.

In 1982, according to an article published in the Record Express, borough council agreed to construct exact replicas of the town’s old Christmas stars, which were deteriorating.

The proud tradition of stars in downtown Lititz during Christmas continues to this day. More STARS, page A3

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