Just Next Door: McAdenville

McAdenville, N.C. — known as Christmas Town, USA — lights up each year to entertain and delight families from all over the area. Located in Gaston County just west of Charlotte, this small textile town, population* 619, hosts more than 600,000 visitors annually from Dec. 1-26 for the Christmas Lights celebration.

The visitors come in cars, buses and trucks — some even park and walk — to experience the wondrous red, green and white lights on more than 375 live evergreens on the two-mile stretch of road that winds through this humble textile town.

It all started in 1956, when the McAdenville Men’s Club decided to decorate nine trees around the community center with the support and approval of Mr. Pharr. Pharr, president of Pharr Yarns, the local textile plant, and his wife are the founders of the Christmas Lights tradition. It was Mrs. Pharr who suggested the use of traditional red, white and green lights and later recommended the addition of a manger scene and lighted trees surrounding the lake as a focal point. And each year the number of decorated trees grew.

Traditions abound in McAdenville. The Yule Log Parade, which the Pharrs introduced to their community in 1950, is based on an English ceremony. A crowd follows the Yule Log being pulled on a decorated sled through town to the fireplace where it is placed and lit to symbolize the light of Christ, serenaded by Christmas carolers and a visit from Santa Claus. There is a saying here that anyone who participates in the parade will have good fortune in the year to come.

McAdenville is experiencing growth and development, so expect to see new houses under construction along the Christmas Lights road this year. If you’ve never been, there is so much to see! Load up the kids with some warm cookies, hot chocolate and snuggly blankets (it’s fun to open the windows and listen to the music). Be prepared for a steady stream of cars meandering slowly on the 20-30 minute drive through town — and bring your own Christmas CDs for the drive home. Weeknights are less crowded than weekends. But if you choose to walk, the Baptist church offers free hot chocolate, coffee and treats Friday and Saturday nights starting Dec. 1.

*according to City-Data.com

Fun Facts
• 450,000 red, green and white lights are used each year.
• A dozen men begin testing and stringing lights in August each year.
• Christmas Lights celebration generates an estimated $11.8 million for the local economy.
• More than 75 percent of the 600,000 visitors come from outside Gaston County.
• As few as 500 lights and as many as 5,000 lights might be used on one tree.

Mark Your Christmas Calendar
Nov. 30 – Lighting ceremony 4 p.m.
Dec. 21 – Yule Log Parade 6 p.m.
Fridays and Saturdays — Free hot chocolate beginning Dec. 1.

Nov. 30-Dec. 26
Weeknights: 5:30 p.m. until 9:30 p.m.**
Weekends: 5:30 p.m. until 11 p.m.**
**Lights shut off automatically at times listed, regardless of cars in line.

What’s Next Door
Distance to Neighboring Towns*
Lowell to McAdenville — 1.5 miles
Belmont to McAdenville — 3.3 miles
Gastonia to McAdenville — 7 miles
Charlotte to McAdenville — 16.15 miles
*according to City-Data.com

Eve White is editor of Charlotte Parent.