By Katy Savage
The 80-year-old illuminated star that shines above the Woodstock Village in the winter from top of Mt. Tom is getting replaced next spring.
The Woodstock Rotary Club is raising $120,000 to turn the wood structure into a galvanized steel structure, ensuring the beacon will continue for generations.
“We decided this summer we need to look at doing a new renovation,” said Norm Frates, a rotary club member who’s been involved with the star for 10 years.
About 140 people attended a fundraiser at the Woodstock Inn Nov. 5 and raised $78,000 through a silent auction and donations.
“We’re well on our way to achieving that $120,000,” Frates said.
Frates said the rotary club will likely have the fundraising secured by the end of the year, earlier than the projected February timeline.
The current wooden structure was placed at the top of the mountain by a telephone company to welcome soldiers home from World War II during the holiday season.
While some the star is a symbol of peace and hope, it has also been the subject of controversy. For decades, the star was lit as a cross for the few days near Easter. but about six years ago that stopped amid outrage from the public about the representation of a religious symbol in the village.
Around the same time, the Woodstock Rotary Club changed the previous incandescent lighting to LED lights, which dropped the electric bill from $450 a month to $27 a month. The star, which was lit from Dec. 15 to Jan. 15, now stays on the entirety of Eastern Standard Time, from Nov. 5. to March 12, this year.
The new star will be made of galvanized steel and will have 100 lights. It will be constructed by Erik Tobiason of Colby & Tobiason in Woodstock. The new star will be the same size and be placed by a crane next May.
Woodstock Rotary is offering donors the opportunity to purchase lights at several donation levels, ranging from $500 to $5,000. Donors will be listed on plaques near the star.
For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.