Christmas Town, USA
McAdenville, North Carolina is an overachiever. The town boasts only about 700 residents (651, to be precise, according to the last census) but at one time of the year McAdenville draws in over 600,000 visitors annually. The reason?
In a word: Christmas.
McAdenville, about 15 miles west of Charlotte, isn’t just nicknamed “Christmas Town USA.” The city council takes it a step farther each year and actually makes the nickname official— renaming the town for the month of December.
Nearly half a million lights are erected for the official celebration, but with most residents extravagantly decorating their own houses, the entire town winds up getting into the show. Not only have countless area news stations featured McAdenville on their broadcasts, but Time Magazine and Yahoo have both named it one of the top national holiday attractions. Good Morning America broadcast live from there as well.
The holiday tradition began back in 1956 when Pharr Yarns, who was the largest employer and land owner in town sponsored the first event. The lights have always been completely managed by volunteers, and even today Pharr Yarns still foots the electric bill.
There is no charge to see the displays, though the local restaurants and McAdenville hotels are no doubt happy to welcome and serve the hundreds of thousands who start arriving just after December 1st. They’ll keep coming, too, until after Christmas.
Official hours are between 5:30 to 9:30 p.m. weekdays and Saturday and Sunday 5:30 to 11 p.m.
If you plan to drive to the area, you won’t be alone—more than 300,000 vehicles visit every year. But don’t use your GPS, because if you do it will take you to the McAdenville exit on I-85, which is closed for the month. Once in town, though, there are no worries about getting lost, because there’s only one way through town.
Those who are veterans at experiencing McAdenville advise that walking is the best way to see everything, anyway. So park your car at the big parking lot next to the lake in the middle of Christmas Town, USA. You’ll recognize it because of the 33 trees that line its shore and reflect in the water. Set out on foot and soon you’ll be checking out the fountain that’s lit in Christmas colors, and gazing at all 375 trees that light the route through town.
But if you do insist on driving through, don’t worry about your headlights being on or off… you won’t need them.
Christmas and the time around the holidays are meaningful to many. McAdenville, NC might be lost amongst other small towns except for using the Christmas theme to help brand the city as “Christmas Town USA.” And because of this inspired idea, hundreds of thousands of visitors get to know McAdenville each year, and millions more through media coverage of the event.
And if one is going to salute Christmas, what is more inspired than using an entire city as the canvas upon which the inspiration is brought to life?
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