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CAMDEN, Maine ― Those in the vicinity of Mt. Battie were surprised last night when they saw a star shining down from the top of the 800-foot-tall mountain.
Typically, the star ― a 54-year-old midcoast tradition ― is only displayed from Thanksgiving to New Year’s Day. But these are not normal times and the group that organizes the star lighting, Friends of Mt. Battie, thought the iconic landmark could inspire Mainers as the COVID-19 pandemic disrupts routines here and around the world.
“I have always felt the Mt. Battie star to be a symbol of hope and community spirit. We could all get a boost from that symbolism right now,” said Camden resident Tom Jackson, who has been involved with the star project for nearly 30 years.
The star, made up of more than 100 LED light bulbs, was taken down from the World War I Memorial tower on top of Mount Battie in January. But it was quietly resurrected on Monday and will be lit every night at 7 p.m. for as long as the pandemic lasts.
This is the first time in 54 years that the star has been on display outside of the holiday season.
Peter Rollins, of Lincolnville, who has been involved with the star project for 25 years, said the suggestion to put the star back up was made by a Camden resident on a local Facebook group created to help community members during COVID-19.
Since Mt. Battie is part of the Camden Hills State Park, the Friends of Mt. Battie needed permission from the state to erect the star. Over the weekend, the state gave the greenlight and a group of volunteers wearing face masks and gloves converged at the mountain’s summit Monday to install it.
Due to social distancing guidelines, it took a bit longer than usual to assemble the star, but Rollins said it was well worth the effort.
“It’s hope. It’s a shining light. We’re all here together, the star is shining down on all of us. It’s like today when it’s nice and sunny out, you feel better,” Rollins said. “If it makes one person’s day a little brighter it’s worth all the work.”
With Mt. Battie towering over Camden Harbor, the star’s light can be seen for miles. A resident of Matinicus ― Maine’s most remote island located 20 miles out to sea ― told Rollins he was able to see the star on Monday night.
Residents of Camden and surrounding towns have posted on Facebook to express their gratitude for the resurrection of the star.
Heather Spencer, the Camden resident who initially suggested the idea, said seeing the star being put back up made her emotional.
“Oh I’m all teared up! Yay! Thank you! Thank you, to everyone involved with making this happen! So amazing! I hope it brings hope and happiness to so many,” Spencer said in a comment on a Facebook post from Rollins unveiling the surprise resurrection of the star.
Watch: Maine CDC, Gov. Janet Mills press conference, April 7