More than a half century ago WRAL-TV began an annual holiday tradition that–to this day—lights up the night skies of West Raleigh and brings excitement and wonder to children of all ages. Each December the station turns its 300-foot-tall transmitting tower into the biggest Christmas tree in North Carolina.
The tradition began in 1959 as the brainchild of CBC founder A.J. Fletcher. At his urging, station engineers scaled the tower and strung colored lights top to bottom. It took nearly 3,000 lights to complete the job, but the results were spectacular and a tradition was born.
Early each December the tower lights are turned on during a special program featuring carolers, musicians and a variety of festive entertainment. The lights shine throughout the month of December and always draw a crowd.
In the early ‘60s, traffic jams would form as cars filled with tower-gazers backed up along Western Boulevard. Even today, hundreds of visitors come to the station to join the excitement when the switch is thrown and the lights of the WRAL-TV tower shine once again.