Raleigh, N.C. — WRAL lit the 300-foot transmission tower outside the WRAL-TV Studios, at 2619 Western Blvd. in Raleigh, on Tuesday in an annual holiday tradition that dates back more than half a century.
The lighting transforms the station's tower into a 300-foot Christmas tree wrapped in more than 2,800 multi-colored lights. Three 5-foot stars adorn the top of the tower, which will glow nightly through New Year’s Day. The tower is a beacon of the holiday season for many.
The NC Master Chorale offered holiday musical standards, boosting the Christmas spirit throughout the course of Tuesday's WRAL Evening News.
When the time came to light the tower, special guest Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer used the power of his nose to break through the gathering fog and prompt the tower to do the same.
Vocal, dancing performances get WRAL in the Christmas spirit
A tradition 50 years in the making
It all began in 1959, with Capitol Broadcasting Co. founder A.J. Fletcher reading "A Christmas Carol" to viewers before the tower was lit.
Over time, the original tradition was embellished with new ones, including musical performances, aerial video from Sky 5, manufactured snow to set the mood and streaming video to the Web and mobile phones.
One of the more memorable tower lightings came in 2005, when Ebeneezer Scrooge tried to stop the celebration. Ira David Wood, in costume as Scrooge, joined Debra Morgan and David Crabtree for a look back through the event's 57-year history.