It was red when there were dead

I had to journey over to Roanoke today for an errand, and I’m currently sitting in view of the Mill Mountain Star. I have been musing in my mind if something I remembered from my childhood was indeed true: the star turned red when there was a traffic fatality.

That great, but fallible, online encyclopedia Wikipedia just answered that for me. It in fact DID turn red when someone died on Virginia highways.

This was always a bit of a curious thing from my days as  kid off William Road. I think it was probably a little ghoulish for a pre-teenager to think about.

It’s almost as if your city is being dominated by some wicked being up on the main promentory in the area. Think Lord of the Rings or the Wizard of Oz.

They don’t turn the star red anymore. After I left for points north, they changed the star’s configuration and illumination strategy.

Here’s what the Wiki people say about it:

“As part of the bicentennial celebration in 1976, the design was changed to an outer single star of red encompassing inner double-stars of white and blue. Generally all the colors have been lit at once, but occasionally the colors have been lit in a repeating sequence: each color shows exclusively for a second or two, or in succession. To commemorate a tragic event, the red outer star has been used alone, in a manner akin to a lowered flag.”

It’s still a cool thing that this local icon is still around. It adds a little flavor to a city that doesn’t seem to be that robust.

The above photo is the modern star.

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