The star, placed on Ridgewood Mountain, was initially erected years ago on a wooden frame by the late Stewart Mintz.
The wood later deteriorated and the lights turned off.
Barry Cole, a skilled machinist, noticed the star was no longer shining and volunteered to build a new frame of aluminum tubing. It measures 21 feet from point to point.
“That star meant much to my children when they were small,” Cole said. “I wanted other families with kids to enjoy the same experience during the holiday season.”
Once the new frame was built, his son Dusty, daughter Jodie and grandson Avery once again gathered to view the star the day it was delivered.
“It has become an annual tradition for many people who come here to not only see the star but also the lighted cross,” Cole said.
He built the steel cross in his shop while a member of New Freedom Baptist Church. It is 20 feet tall, 17 feet wide and weighs 250 pounds and took about a week to assemble.
“It is my gift of love to this community,” Cole said.
Once he started the project, Cole helped pour a foundation of concrete, build a frame and then erect the giant cross. It is hinged so that it can be maintained and the 300 bulbs replaced.
When complete, the cross was transported to a selected site off U. S. Highway 278. Family and friends assisted with the move up the mountain to an area filled with rocks near the edge of a cliff.
“It reminded me of how Jesus carried his cross up Calvary,” Cole said.
Today, Cole and his wife Wanda are responsible for the utility bill. The lights burn 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year.
“Many people tell us how much they enjoy seeing it,” Cole said.
Comments received include:
“You will never know how much that cross means to me.”
“I was feeling depressed when I saw lights shining from the mountain. It lifted my spirit and I felt better.”
Cole said he understands these emotions. He said his life was changed when he discovered the true meaning of the cross.
“To me, the star is about a Babe in a manager and the cross is about Jesus, who died and lived again,” Cole said.