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A wish for hope becomes reality: Mt. Battie star shines over Camden

Star will be lit after 7 p.m. each evening
By Susan Mustapich | Apr 06, 2020
Courtesy of: Peter Rollins The Mt. Battie star will shine over Camden for the first time ever in the spring. Crew members responsible for erecting the star April 6 are, from left, Chris Farley, Mark Kelley, Randy Stearns, Arthur Andrews, Casey Leonard, Bob Cochran, Tom Jackson, Jeremy Bisson, Matt Heath and Peter Rollins.

CAMDEN — A crew of volunteers that sets the lighted star atop Mt. Battie during the winter holiday season has turned what began as the wish of one woman to see the star lighted this spring into a beacon of hope for all of the community.

Members of the crew erected the star Monday on the World War I Memorial Tower, after receiving permission from the state of Maine, according to a statement released by Friends of Mt. Battie.

For the first time in its 54-year history, the star on Mt. Battie will shine over Camden during the spring season, until the COVID-19 pandemic is over, according to the Friends. The star will be lit each evening at sunset, shortly after 7 p.m.

Historically, the star shines from Thanksgiving Day through New Year’s Eve. As far as the Friends of Mt. Battie can recall, there has never been a time, until now, when the star has been erected outside the holiday season.

Peter Rollins recounted the spark that got the conversation started back in mid-March, when a member of the Five Town Samaritans Facebook group mentioned that it would be inspiring to see the star shining down on the town during the COVID-19 pandemic.

"I read that post and thought, Why not?," Rollins said. "It took several weeks to get everything lined up, but it is incredibly satisfying to see it come to fruition today.”

The woman who expressed the wish is Heather Spencer, who, with her husband and son, moved to Camden 2 1/2 years ago.

Spencer, a self-employed artist, was close to wrapping up radiation treatment for breast cancer, and with her immunity compromised was unable to leave the house for anything but her treatments. Being unable to go out and help neighbors, when a friend invited her to the Five Town Samaritans Facebook group, she joined hoping there was something she could do.

Through Facebook, she is also connected to her hometown in Easthampton, Mass., which coincidentally also has a star on its mountain, Mt. Tom. On Facebook, she saw people in her hometown were lighting up their star again.

She posted a question on the Five Town Samaritan group, wondering if Camden's star could be lighted at this time as well.

Spencer can see the Mt. Battie star from her kitchen window, and from her studio window. "It gives me goosebumps. It brings me happiness," she said. She envisioned the happiness seeing the star shining on the mountain now would bring to people in Camden.

She found a video online that someone had made about setting the star on top of Mt. Battie. She learned about the long history of the star, and saw how complicated it was to set it up.

"I knew it was asking a lot in this time to ask people to get it together to mount the star, and the money it takes to run the generator," she said.

Others in the Five Towns group shared Spencer's enthusiasm, and before long, someone posted that Rollins was the person to talk to.

Spencer reached out to Rollins on social media. "When Peter got back to me and told they were going to try to do this, I totally teared up," she said.

Rollins and the Friends of Mt. Battie had to obtain permission from the Maine Bureau of Parks and Lands, a process that took weeks.

Once Parks and Lands issued the green light over the past weekend, Rollins said, an all-volunteer crew met the morning of April 5 to unpack the star and make sure all parts were in working order. The team delivered the steel frame, outfitted with over 100 LED bulbs, to the tower on the morning of April 6, and began the assembly process.

Normally, assembly takes about two hours, but team members reported that the process took nearly twice as long on Monday, as volunteers complied with physical distancing, and the wearing of masks and gloves, according to the release.

Crew member and Camden resident Tom Jackson has been involved with the star project for close to 30 years.

“I have always felt the Mt. Battie Star to be a symbol of hope and community spirit. We could all get a boost from that symbolism right now," Jackson said April 6.

Joining Jackson in the assembly were Randy Stearns, Rollins, Casey Leonard and Mark Kelley, with Timbercliff Tree Service and members of the Camden Fire Department providing their assistance.

The Friends of Mt. Battie Tower group is supported by businesses and organizations that help make the Mt. Battie Star a true community effort year after year, including the Camden Lions Club, Rankin’s Hardware, Village Variety, and 17-90 Lighting.

The Mt. Battie star, usually lit from Thanksgiving Day to New Year's Eve, shines again to provide hopeful inspiration amid the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic. (Source: File photo)
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Comments (2)
Posted by: Harry Fitzgerald | Apr 07, 2020 14:40

Thanks to Camden for putting up this special sign of hope for all to see. Seeing the star on Mt Battie means we are in a season of hope and peace. I love that it is there until Covid-19 is passed, and pray that the star is there for weeks, rather than months.

Nancy Fitzgerald



Posted by: Mary A McKeever | Apr 07, 2020 11:58

I remember such wonder when I saw the star as I drove from Hope to Camden on 105. We residents of Hope truly enjoyed the star as much as Camden -ites. Stay safe and God Bless!



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