The Star on the Mountain. It’s unique. It’s iconic. It’s an El Paso thing.

The glimmering landmark has been lighting up our nights in one form or another since 1940. For many El Pasoans who move away and return to visit family, or go out of town for a few days, it means home.

To some, it was and should still be just a Christmas thing.

Prior to 1979 the star did only shine during the holiday season. El Paso Electric temporarily began lighting it nightly during the Iran Hostage Crisis as a show of support for the Americans who were being held against their will by the Iranian government. It remained lit for 444 days, from Christmas 1979 until January 21, 1981.

Brian Wancho
Brian Wancho

It went back to its Christmas-only roots after that until 1990 when the Gulf War broke out. Again it was kept on nightly -- this time for 263 days, from Christmas 1990 to Aug. 21, 1991 -- in support of Fort Bliss and all U.S. troops that were a part of Operation Desert Storm.

Two years later, in 1993, the El Paso Chamber of Commerce proposed keeping the lights on every night.

The movement, spearheaded by then commerce president Jack Maxon, gained momentum and community support and became a reality on April 21 of that year. It's been a daily part of the El Paso nighttime skyline ever since.

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