Saturday, December 13, 2008

Uptown Westerville is a Place for A Shining Star

For decades now, it's not really, officially the holidays in Westerville until we see the Christmas Star hanging in Uptown Westerville. During the Great Depression in the previous century, to encourage Uptown residents to "buy local," the Westerville's Businessman's Association, approached the city manager with an idea and here is the history of the Westerville Star, as complied and presented by Beth Weinhardt of the Westerville Local History Research Center...

In ancient times the five pointed star, with one point straight up, represented all that is good and holy.

In the early days of this country, our forefathers used stars as a decoration to symbolize the strength of family and a deep respect and abiding love for God. The founders of our Great Nation adopted the star to symbolize the very first states on the very first flag.

The upper right and left points represent "Mother" and "Father", the lower two points represent "Children," and the top center always points toward the Heavens in reverence to the Lord our Creator. The original Christmas Star shone to announce the birth of Jesus over 2000 years ago; it's light and beacon of welcome to all who would come.

As a traditional tree-topper the star serves as a reminder of that light, the source of true Christmas joy.

In the depths of the Great Depression, the Westerville Businessman's Association led by Percy Yantis wanted to find a way to bring business to uptown and to make the holidays brighter during those difficult times. Yantis went to City Manager Ross Windom with the idea of having a large star hanging over the main intersection in the shopping district during the holidays.

Windom approved of the idea and local tinsmith George Alexander was commissioned to create the decoration. George Alexander, descended from one of the early mayors of Westerville, worked on the star with his two sons Russell and Nolan in his tin shop which was located where Green Cleaners is located today off of College Ave. George was talented not only in his work with tin but also was noted because he was the director of the Westerville Band.

The Public Opinion in its December 5, 1935 edition said, "The business section of the village has taken on a holiday appearance with the erection of the Christmas decorations. A noteworthy addition this year is a huge star electrically lighted and hanging high over the street at the corner of State and Main St. The star was made by George Alexander. Stores are now displaying their holiday merchandise and Christmas shopping will get under way in earnest in a few days. Shop at home is a slogan to bear in mind."

The star has been an important part of the holidays in Uptown Westerville ever since its debut. George Alexander, its creator, passed about in 1939 at the age of 55 after 35 years in the tinsmith business.

The Westerville Star lights the night at N. State and W. Main.

For this holiday season, the members of the Westerville Uptown Merchants Association encourage you to Shop at Home.

Best Wishes!

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