Raleigh, N.C. — The holiday season got a bit brighter on Monday, Dec. 1, when WRAL lit the 300-foot Western Boulevard broadcast tower for the 55th time.
The tradition started in 1959 with Capitol Broadcasting Co. founder A.J. Fletcher reading "A Christmas Carol" on the air.
In 1997, WRAL built a new tower and added the 2,800 lights that have served as a glowing Christmas tree for downtown Raleigh ever since.
Over the years, the tower lighting has become a tradition as it has gradually expanded to include music, guests, manufactured snow and a flyover by Sky 5.
Each year brings special guests, from tuba-toting WRAL Chief Meteorologist Greg Fishel to Scrooge himself.
This year, Jackie Hyland and Gerald Owens welcomed the 50-voice NC State Chorale to the WRAL Studios while Debra Morgan counted down to the tower lighting with some very special guests from the North Carolina Ballet.
Although Monday's weather was relatively warm and clear, Southern Snowman delivered a wintry wonderland in the WRAL courtyard to set the stage for the tower lighting.
The tower will stay lit until New Year's Day.
Holiday lights abound
As Christmas approaches, homes and businesses around the Triangle light the night with unique displays, musical choreography, inflatables and decorations that range from the sincerely religious to the downright silly.
Or see them all without starting the car, and be sure to share your photos!
Durham to light Lucky Strike Tower
In downtown Durham, the American Tobacco Historic District will ring in the holiday season with the 10th annual lighting of the Lucky Strike Tower on Dec. 5.
Diamond View Park outside the Durham Performing Arts Center will also be lined with decorated Christmas trees from competitors in the third annual Triangle Christmas Tree Challenge. Each tree represents an area non-profit organization. Visitors can vote for their favorite via text message. Winners earn donations of $1,000 to $5,000.