How Myrtle Beach got its Christmas star
“Try not to get the light,” Travis Herring yelled out as Tim Holmes tried to hook a 20-foot star covered in string lights to a forklift.
With a small bang, the star was hooked, and Holmes started dragging it out from under a covered storage area and into the middle of a lot filled with cranes of all sizes.
Located on Seaboard Street in Myrtle Beach, Coastal Crane Services is hanging a 200- to 300-pound star from a crane, making it visible from U.S. 17 and U.S. 501 — a tradition for more than 30 years.
“Put it up and got more and more comments every year,” said Coastal Crane Services owner Jeff Whittington. “We have people in the barber shop say ‘when are you putting that up,’ and had ladies call, ‘our kids look forward to it,’ and stuff like that. Gives us a little incentive to do it.”
Since 1987, the star has gone up the week following Thanksgiving, lighting up the sky until Christmas time.
But the tradition was started when Whittington and some friends were bored on a rainy Thanksgiving day.
“We didn’t have anything to do, pouring rain, and somebody came up with the idea, ‘you know, we oughta build a star,’” Whittington said.
On the concrete floor in 1987, Whittington started to chalk out the outline of the star, enclosed by a circle. After that, he started to shape reinforcement bars and welded them together into a star.
“I guess we probably spent two days with two or three guys making it,” Whittington said. “It wasn’t all that bad. It was mostly just getting it round and getting all the little points where it’s supposed to be, getting it all balanced out. It looks pretty good.”
The Christmas decoration is more than just a star. During the day, an outline of a Christmas tree can be seen, a simple triangle and square stump.
On Tuesday, Herring and Holmes hooked the star to the crane, lifting it 178 feet into the air — a process that takes between two and three hours.
With the help of two cranes, Holmes was lifted into the air, side-by-side with the star to keep it steady as it moved upward. Once the star was in position, both Holmes and Herring worked to tie it down so it wouldn’t blow around in the wind.
Whittington was a little late this year in putting the star up, needing two to three free workers to help maneuver it out of the building and into the air.
Because they were late in putting up the decoration, several people called to ask if they were still putting it out, Whittington said.
Only one year passed when the star didn’t go up, and there were a handful of times when it was taken down due to the threat of storms.
“I thank the Lord every day, the good Lord,” Whittington said. “I feel like I’ve done my part for the community when I put it up because the kids, especially, look forward to seeing it.”