The Christmas Star of Caldwell County

The Christmas star on Hilbriten Mountain is lit each year the night of the City of Lenoir parade

The holidays have a way of drawing us home. In Caldwell County the Blue Ridge Electric Cooperative and the Moose Club light a beacon on Hibriten Mountain as a Caldwell County homecoming invitation.

In 1954 the two local organizations came together and erected a star on the mountain. “I grew up with the star,” said former resident Edie Hipp. “It made its debut when I was a year old.”Locals see the structure as a radiant glow of inspiration. “The star is turned on the evening of the Christmas parade,” said Hipp. “For me it is a beacon and fills me with peace.”

Hibriten Mountain is tucked away in Northwestern N.C. at the end of what is known as the Brushy Mountain range. The range extends across five North Carolina counties: Alexander, Caldwell, Iredell, Wilkes, and Yadkin — an area of the state well-known for their apple orchards.

The Yadkin River separates the 45 mile-long “Brushies” (as the residents refer to them) from the larger Blue Ridge Mountains. Just west of the Pisgah National Forest and north of Morganton, their town slogan is, “where the high country begins.”

Edie’s son Aaron Hipp is an Associate Professor of Community Health and Sustainability in the College of Natural Resources at North Carolina State University and he has the same deep Caldwell County roots as his mother — resulting in a holiday nostalgia for the glow of the star. “We literally grew up at the foot of the mountain,” said Aaron. “I could see the star and cross from my bedroom window — it means a lot to Lenoir.”

Across the state there are seasonal landmarks that remain in the hearts of the residents all year long — the star on the top of Hibriten mountain happens to belong to Caldwell County — a community that has needed a glow of hope in recent years. This high country was once home to furniture and textile companies, but many of those businesses consolidated their operations and now most of the employment can be found in the fields of medicine and education. “The star is a bright spot for the citizens,” said Edie. “Visit — you won’t be disappointed.”

The Christmas star of Hibriten mountain has a way of settling in a soul and bringing out all that is good during this season of comfort and joy. “I feel the presence of the Holy Spirit every time I see it,” said Edie Hipp. “Although I no longer live in Lenoir, the mountain’s shining light welcomes me back home.”