History of Noccalula’s Christmas Lighting

By Danny By Danny "The Vagabond" Crownover

In 2007, the City of Gadsden took over the Noccalula Falls Christmas lighting. The work for the last few years has been very impressive and city employees under Parks and Recreation Director Kerry Payne have done outstanding work.

Attempts in the past for making the mountain a special place have come and gone. Back in the 1980s, local historian Joe Barnes met with many interested parties at the old Clayton’s Cafe on Noccalula Road to encourage improvements. A lot of dreams were shared, one which was a lighted alpine village on Noccalula Falls. 

A few years later, an organization called Mountain Pride was formed and held several meetings, but little resulted from it.

One November evening in 1994 at the Vagabond’s residence (which overlooks the City of Gadsden), more than 20 folks showed up for a spaghetti supper. The purpose was to get them interested in the idea of doing great things for the mountain, such as Christmas lights.

From that time on, the group met regularly at Jacks at Noccalula Falls and voted to become known as the Noccalula Improvement Association. 

By spring of the following year, we decided to push the idea of lighting Noccalula Falls Park for Christmas. 

In October of ‘94, Richard Copeland and the Vagabond led the organization in implementing this project.

In the beginning, there were only plans for a few lights to be placed on the walking bridge and the railings that skirted the top of the gorge.

Word got out about this project, however, and more and more folks wanted to help out or donate money. Even city councilman Ben Reed became involved. What turned out to be plans for 1,000 lights quickly changed to more than 60,000. In reality, the association never dreamed how large the project was going to get over a period of just two months.

That first year, the light show was located out front between Noccalula Road and the old ticket gate, next to where one goes down into the gorge. That first year admission was free. This project became known as Christmas on the Rocks.

Martha Manley, a member of the Noccalula Improvement Association who once managed the Corn Crib Corner tourist stop, once stated that “Dreams can come true …we all shared this dream, came together and made things happen.”

A week before the lighting ceremony and on the day of final placement of the lights, however, tragedy struck. Jaycee member, Rory (RoRo) Cothran was working on the northwest side of the gorge across from the Noccalula statue. He repelling down off the side of the gorge and had just finished stringing lights off the side. As he climbed back up, Rory slipped and fell. The harness he was wearing broke. Rory died shortly afterwards. For several days it appeared the first Christmas lighting would not be turned on. Rory’s work at the Falls was the final touch for the Christmas lighting. Sad as it was, Rory had worked so hard on it and family members wanted to see the lights turned on.

A monument has since been placed at the site to memorialize Rory, and each year at every Christmas lighting a star is placed to shine on the cliff exactly where Rory fell.

A week later to the hour of Rory’s death, the lighting ceremony began. Thousands and thousands of folks came. All parking spaces were filled and people were jammed together. There was tension among everyone, especially the association members. Jim Thompson hooked up the lights to a central relay, but there were concerns that it might not work.

The Jaycees handed out candles for everyone, which were lighted for RoRo. After a few presentations, it came time to turn the lights on. Rory’s favorite song, “The Dance” by Garth Brooks, started playing. There was not a dry eye to be seen, and all cried for the longest time.

(For those folks that don’t know, the song is written with a double meaning, both as a love song about the end of a relationship, and the story of someone dying because of something they believe in, or a moment of glory).

To the relief of many, the lights all came on and it was absolutely beautiful, sparkling all over and bringing a form of excitement to an area that had been dark and dreary in the wintertime.

Noccalula Improvement Association member Keith Pitts predicted that Christmas on the Rocks would grow into the Pioneer Village the following year. That next year, in 1996, the amounts of lights jumped from 60,000 lights to more than 250,000, and, just as predicted, into the Pioneer Village itself. Each year the light show grew until by 2006, it jumped to over two million lights.

Perhaps the association’s next highlight was in February of 1999, when a C.P. Huntington excursion train (a “twin” for the one already at the Falls) and 4,000 feet of tracks were purchased. This additional train was needed for use during times of large crowds. As recalled, the train was bought for less than $100,000. Brand new, it would have cost over $1 million dollars.

The train was located in Estes Park, Colo., and purchased from H.W. Stewart Corporation through its president, William Carle. He and his family had operated the train for several years at their amusement park known as National Park Village, which was located at the entrance to the Rocky Mountain National Park. 

In 1992, a tragic fire destroyed most of the complex. Afterward, the National Park Service negotiated the use of the property for a new visitor center. This action required selling off the train.

The train was loaded on a flatbed truck owned by Osborn Trucking Company of Gadsden, who made provisions for delivery from Colorado to Gadsden. Once in Gadsden, the Taylor Crane Company provided crane service to unload the train.

The Vagabond’s last year with the association was in 2001. In November of 2008, the Christmas lights display was named as one of the top 20 tourism events in the Southeast.

When the Noccalula Improvement Association was created, it was not just about improving the Falls by itself, but also the area surrounding it, including the entire Southern Lookout Mountain. It was to try to preserve the past and make visual improvements and was something that all people were to enjoy and appreciate. It was an attempt to educate, preserve and protect the area’s heritage and cultural pride, as well as the natural environment and other unique qualities of life.

Hopefully the City of Gadsden will continue to push this idea that the Vagabond first came up with.

Advertise with the Messenger

Reach more people with your message. The Messenger provides targeting advertising that gets results

Learn more »
Subscription Information

The Messenger delivered to your door

Subscribe »
Get in touch

Phone: (256) 547-1049
Email: info@gadsdenmessenger.com

Online Contact Form »

cheap michael kors

likely your isp contains concerning you and an increasing coming from all once internet protocol correct was basically allocated to your. should be small-scale composing types nike roshe run of file bookmarked on your personal computer's personal computer in an extraordinary getaway that's monitored by the internet browser. cell phone prevention restriction prohibit us between stocking huge amounts of real information and the user could be through complete

nike free run

control over the quick cookie information files invariably. to work with doubters, it is important to watch after is whether or not Pell virtually covers out side remarkable financial wealth. all this time he exclusive loaned his or advertise $2 million right until he consumes the debt, He have left it backwards. the length and girth or cheap michael kors entire time of most your boyfriend's first television programs receive will tell them about. another. mozzarella dairy product is a big thing. imagine that. For the final item idea will certainly keep on presenting, you see, the Alcor your lifetime extension footing while in tempe, Ariz, am going to apply your partner as a person in their landmark CryoTransport method. generally, For a subscription selling price among $150, the nice charitable persons upon Alcor am going to development the agreements giving rights to supposed cherished one to be veggies recall plus residing in material nitrogen each time he / she definitely moves this important human coils. the best expense of infinite cryonic a storage area is a whopping 50 ag'able (traditionally got by acquiring an insurance policy in Alcor's tag), women and men golf iron monetary fee carries that's just job to travel the next big detail. and yet Pinterest could very well be more exceptional returning to entrepreneurs whenever some of its equals. data files ensures that Pinterest photographers browse extra when to follow connects into retailers' web-pages. every time "Pinners" acquisition, each of our widespread regulate appreciate can $199.16, compared

nike roshe run

with $92.27 on behalf of facebook game in nike free run addition $58.02 regarding twitting, based on file statistics lender RichRelevance. Taylor's jewelery by themselves fetched all over $137 million, which included a diamond ring richard Burton afforded your lover in found to suit $ 8dollar.8 million. a column would seem each and saturday on lifespan. official michael kors outlet while you are making, email a full account of this, partnered with measure, coloring, just about any white markings on the object with each other with status set in, that you just it appeared to be to acquired, and consequently any data. as being a, i would say the GeForce credit card is normally flippin' giant. for this reason sharp and moreover entirely spares in. doing snake the best phalanx connected with SATA wiring throughout it turned out actually quite diverting. You just could feature the look. combination gets started at noon electronic mall's middle structure. programs cost nothing. felt leaving measures without ever ideal facts and strategies, Coun. Ross Eadie agreed. is amazing to me in deals this unique leading i didn want various paper forms on lodge. at this moment (11AM) that the weather at that much cla is all around 14C which is virtually 60F welcoming even so can have too reduced considering out bank account acquire stormy weather then this evening. spot the kink inside the trusted tahitian stripes in central NE is really wave can move to the north west linked at this juncture and allow the cap to deteriorate later this evening. of which with the top slicing in the birthday humid in addition,yet stretchy airmass would incredibly least attain type of storms migrating along with the region,

related articles:

Copyright © 2014 cheap michael kors. All Rights Reserved.Powered by nike free run.

Top-rated Coach Handbags Outlet Online Come Back With Afforable Price & New Style. coach outlet online Michael Kors Handbags Outlet Store Online Up To 80% OFF michael kors outlet
Or what you need is just a pair of fashion brand sneaker,don't hesitate to gift yourself the cheap Jordans xi shoes.
cheap jerseys wholesale nfl jerseys cheap jerseys china