Christmastown USA: A piece of the North Pole in North Carolina –

by: Stewart Pittman

Posted: / Updated:

McADENVILLE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) — If you’ve lived in the Charlotte area for more than a year, you’ve probably heard of McAdenville, the small Gaston County town known as “Christmastown USA.”

Each December, hundreds of thousands of visitors walk or drive through McAdenville to see the many holiday displays. And while the town itself puts up many of the lights, the residents of Christmastown do their share as well. 

It starts around Halloween, as trick or treaters flood the streets of McAdenville. But just as soon as the kids get their candy, a new season looms…  Ladder season. After all, the thousands of lights that have made this Gaston County town famous don’t get there by themselves.

“Well, living in Christmastown is an all-year event to either decorate for December or you’re planning for the next year when you gotta unpack it and put it up again,” says McAdenville resident Anna Renfro Clark.

For more than sixty years, the town of McAdenville has transformed itself into a twinkling village of lights, drawing hundreds of thousands of visitors who walk or drive through town. And while the town of McAdenville manages many of the lights, those who live here join in as well, one tangled strand at a time.  

Most homeowners spend months planning their displays, proving McAdenville isn’t just a town, it’s a lifestyle.

“So we start planning around August, what do we have, what are we getting out of the attic, what do we like from last year what do we need to replace?” says Clark.

And of course, there’s always that neighbor who takes it to another level.

“We rented a boom-lift and we been at it for three days.” says resident Mark Quackenbush.

Whatever the approach, the folks who call McAdenville home take pride in all the pageantry. But it isn’t always easy.

“I think the most frustrating this is when you come home, its dark and half your strands are out and you gotta find something to make it work and it’s cold and you’re just climbing around your house,” says Clark.

 Which begs the question… With all this fuss, what’s the pay-off?

“There’s a lot of camaraderie among the neighbors helping the other neighbors put it up and then there’s a lot of joy seeing everybody walk the neighborhood in December when the lights are on,” adds Quackenbush.

“Intrinsic joy, which is plenty of payoff. It’s just so fun to come home and the lights are bright, people are out with their families, and you just get that seasonal joy…” says Clark.

The seasonal joy that will last the whole month of December, once those who live here figure out those lights.

The lights of McAdenville will shine this year from December 1-26. After limiting the number of lights due to COVID last year, the town leaders and residents are back to their full display. As for how to best enjoy the McAdenville lights, residents recommend arriving early and walking it if you can.