Wednesday, February 8, 2023

In Pictures: From the Cape Fear to Wrightsville Beach, the lights of Christmas Eve

Snowflake lights draped from a tree in Wrightsville Beach. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

WILMINGTON — Like most Christmas traditions, stringing lights around a Christmas tree was born in the 19th century.

Queen Victoria’s husband Albert first introduced the Christmas tree, or tannenbaum (fir tree), to England in 1841, according to the Smithsonian Magazine. U.S. President Franklin Pierce put one up at the White House in 1856, and by the 1870s “fresh-cut trees were being sold at Washington Square Park, and pretty ornaments at Macy’s.”

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But people were putting candles on their trees at the time, and one inventor saw an opportunity for a safer approach. Edward Hibberd Johnson, Thomas Edison’s right-hand-man, first strung a tree with hand-wired red, white, and blue light bulbs.

As crowds came to marvel at a rotating tree in the window of Johnson’s parlor, the idea would soon become an entrenched American tradition.

Wilmington has its own traditions, from the decorated boats of the annual flotilla at Wrightsville Beach to the luminaries that line the streets of Forest Hills.

So on Christmas Eve, Port City Daily set out to capture Christmas decorations and lights strung around the city, from the Battleship North Carolina on the Cape Fear River to the empty streets of Wrightsville Beach.

See the pictures below:

Members of First Baptist Church of Wilmington file out to Market Street with lit candles while singing “Silent Night.” (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Members of First Baptist Church of Wilmington file out to Market Street with lit candles while singing “Silent Night.” (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
The gnome of Platypus Gnome on Front Street. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Wreaths line South Front Street. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A tree sits in the window display at Finkelstein’s music store in downtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A Christmas display inside the window of Cape Fear Spice Merchants in downtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A woman takes a picture of the city’s tree on the Riverwalk. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Lights hang from the Battleship North Carolina on the Cape Fear River. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Santa Claus was seen driving a horse-drawn trolley on Front Street on Christmas Eve. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Snowflake lights surround the sign for downtown Wilmington. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
The front door of St. James Episcopal Parish on Market and 3rd Street. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A home on Dock Street. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A home on Wrightsville Avenue. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Luminaries line the Forest Hills neighborhood. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A home in the Forest Hills neighborhood. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A home on Park Avenue. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A home on Metts Avenue. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A home in Carolina Place. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Homes along Bradley Creek. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A private dock along Airlie Road. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A boat in the Intracoastal Waterway. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
A tree in Wrightsville Beach. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Causeway Drive in Wrightsville Beach. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Jimmy’s bar was one of few open on Christmas Eve. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)
Lights hang from trees at the gate of the Landfall community. (Port City Daily photo/Mark Darrough)

Mark Darrough can be reached at Mark@Localvoicemedia.com or (970) 413-3815

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