The star on the mountain has been around so long, it's practically become the El Paso city logo. However, it wasn't always, always on.

Back in the day, the star was only lit during the Christmas season. I remember seeing it as a kid and thinking it was so cool. The fact that it was only seen during that short period of time made it extra special.

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Although I do recall it staying on beyond the holidays on 2 different occasions prior to 1993.

  1. Once, around 1980, it stayed lit nightly during the Iranian Hostage Crisis in honor of the 50+ Americans who were held captive in the American Embassy for 444 days. Once they were freed, the star went back to "Christmas season only".
  2. The star was lit, as usual, for the 1990 Christmas season but remained lit for several months beyond the holiday in honor of American soldiers fighting in the Gulf War. It wasn't turned off until the last one came home in August of  '91.

I remember those 80's and 90's days but the star actually dates back to 1940 and, in its 80+ years, has seen some changes. In fact, while researching this article, I found out it hasn't even always been limited to 1 holiday. During Easter, in the 60's, it was a cross.

Illuminated Cross
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In 1993, the decision was made to keep it lit all the time. An idea that a lot of folks, including me, opposed. It was felt that, if it was on all the time, it would lose its allure and become just another unseen or "ignored" thing. Like a tree or a billboard.

We were wrong, it didn't fade into the landscape, nor did we become jaded about it. In fact, it's become an iconic, focal point for the entire city and the surrounding area.

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It's become so synonymous with El Paso that we're often referred to as "Star City" and the color of the star is sometimes changed to coincide with special events/occasions.

Everyone, resident or tourist, has a bunch of pictures of it and the term "Star City" has been adopted by a ton of local businesses and events including Star City Studio and the Star City Tattoo Expo just to name a couple.

PS: If you need a few pics of it for yourself, here's a tip. For a perfectly centered view of the star, this article says to look at it from the intersection of Texas and Alameda.


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