Local News

Lucky Strike Tower lighting kicked off Durham holiday events

Posted December 5, 2008

— Thousands of feet of holiday garland and lights blanketed the American Tobacco Campus on Friday when the 134-year-old Lucky Strike Tower was lit.

The Big Light Switch was thrown for the fourth annual lighting of the Lucky Strike Tower just after 7:30 p.m. Friday. Artificial snow fell from the sky as part of the choreographed pageantry.

Organizers from Light Up Durham said they aim to make the tower lighting a family tradition in Durham, just like the famous tree lightings in New York and Washington, D.C.

Hundreds of poinsettias and seasonal planters will blanket the 250,000-square-foot campus. The event was free, and the first 500 people to arrive received holiday light sticks.

“It’s magic and it really is about family and friends,” Marion Youngblood, executive director of Light Up Durham, said.

Highlights also included live performances by hand bells and choir chimes from Mt. Bethel Presbyterian Church and Mt. Sylvan United Methodist Church, choral groups from W.G. Pearson GT Magnet Elementary School, Little River Elementary School, Riverside High School and a special brass ensemble from Durham School of the Arts.

WRAL's news personality Ken Smith hosted the event.

The celebration continues into Saturday, with free performances by 50 groups in five venues in downtown Durham. The performances surround Durham's parade.

Click here for a full list of performances and a map of the venues.

“It’s going to be fantastic,” Youngblood said.

The Lucky Strike Tower Lighting will benefit from the expertise gained in the lighting of the WRAL-TV tower on Western Boulevard in Raleigh. Capitol Broadcasting, Inc., parent company of WRAL and American Tobacco Campus, has been lighting the TV tower for over 50 years.


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  • cbluedevil Dec 5, 2008

    Come on now, the tower is part of Durham's history and using it to celebrate the holidays is innovative and a great new tradition- not an advertisement for smoking. Of course all the Durham Granolas do is find something to complain about- get over it...it's part of our culture. I took my kids, and we had a constructive conversation about the history of Durham and the tobacco campus. Funny- not once did they ask me for a cigarette.

  • foetine Dec 5, 2008

    Lucky Strike is an actively sold brand of cigarettes. You are not allowed to advertise cigarettes on radio and TV. But there's WRA/Goodman Inc running "ads" even on WUNC's NPR news stuff advertising "Light Up the Lucky Strike Tower."

    If this was "The Joe Camel Tower" would you people just take it in stride? Or the Kool Cigarettes tower? I understand that this was a former tobacco factory, but promoting a brand of cigarettes is just wrong on the public airwaves is just wrong. Kids are getting the idea that Lucky Strikes are part of Santa and the Baby Jesus celebrations. You want you kids thinking they need to light up to enjoy the season?

  • Durham-Raleigh Dec 5, 2008

    Hey, why not blame WRAL? They own the American TOBACCO Campus! They own the LUCKY STRIKE tower!

    And the "Light Up" Durham name is used in towns all around the country for fireworks and community celebrations like this.

    I've lived in Durham for a number of years and thought it was related to smoking. I'm a liberal with a healthy dose of P.C. in me, but this is over the top for me even...

  • nuncvendetta Dec 5, 2008

    I don't blame WRAL. I blame Durham. How dare they have something called "Lucky Strike Tower" or call their festival "Light up Durham." What impression do they think that makes on kids? Associating happy joyous things with smoking. It's not even subtle. Even if the consequences are "unintended," the associative motivations are way too strong. At the very least, Durham is being negligent toward the public interest.

  • sevirj Dec 5, 2008

    um, they are promoting the lighting of the Lucky Strike Tower, not a cigarette. I guess you also think that "Alltel Pavillion" visitors could only use 1 certain brand of cell phone service.

  • whiffleball Dec 5, 2008

    That tower looks far too much like a Christmas tree. I'm offended!

  • foetine Dec 5, 2008

    Why does WRAL go out of its way to promote a cigarette brand on their channel? Lucky Strikes are still for sale. I thought it was illegal to promote smokes and yet there's WRAL letting the kids know that it's not Christmas in Durham until you light up the Lucky Strike.