Palmer Lake Starlighting

Palmer+Lake%27s+Star%2C+which+lit+up+at+exactly+7%3A00+Saturday+night.

Photo by Luxe Palmer

Palmer Lake’s Star, which lit up at exactly 7:00 Saturday night.

By Taylor Goss and Luxe Palmer

2020 has seen the cancelations of many traditions and events that communities hold dear, such as plays, concerts, or gatherings; thankfully, the Palmer Lake Starlighting escaped that fate.

The Palmer Lake Starlighting happens every year around the end of November. On a typical year, the audience can gather at Town Hall for a Chili Dinner, then gather outside in the cold to watch the giant star light up on the side of Sundance Mountain. Since 1936, the star has been lit every night from December 1st to January 1st, and 2020 is no exception.

1935 saw the birth of the Palmer Lake Star as we know it today: B. E. Jack, the regional manager of Mountain Utilities at the time, had a vision for a giant star on the side of Sundance Mountain one morning as he was performing a regular line crew check. The star would be visible for miles around, giving Palmer Lake a name in the holiday season. The idea of a star caught on with many Palmer Lake residents, and, with the help of a few townsmen including Bert Sloan and Richard Wolf, Jack completed the star by the winter of 1935, and it has been a beloved tradition of Palmer Lake ever since.

Cars line up to receive the Chili Dinner at Palmer Lake Firehouse

The annual chili dinner typically consists of people gathering to eat their chili with family and friends in the Palmer Lake Firehouse or the Town Hall. “On most years, we do chili, we do soup, and all those kinds of things,” William Berry, a firefighter from the Palmer Laker Firehouse, said on what the firehouse normally does each year for this dinner. But, 2020 is definitely not a normal year. To accommodate the COVID-19 guidelines, the chili dinner became a chili drive, where families could go through a drive-through at the firehouse to pick up their bowls of chili. This kept the tradition alive, even though the community can no longer enjoy this festivity indoors. Berry’s favorite part of this whole tradition is that the community can see their neighbors and celebrate this wonderful tradition. It is so amazing that Palmer Lake was still able to continue the community tradition, even if it looked a bit different.

Cars go through the “drive-through” to receive their Chili Dinners

For the past 84 years, it has been a tradition for the Palmer Lake star to be lit throughout the holidays. The initial star lighting event and dinner usually take place on the first Saturday after Thanksgiving. “… They [the community] can gather with their neighbors and then at 7 o’clock the night of the event [the chili dinner], we get to light the star, all 92 bulbs. Everyone gets to gather and it’ll stay on through the holiday season and we turn it off on January 1,” Berry said. Sure enough, right at 7 o’clock, the magnificent star was lit with honking and clapping from the audience, making it known to all of Palmer Lake and Monument that the holiday season has begun.

The Palmer Lake Star after it was lit.