The Star to The North
The holiday season has come back around again in the 909. Once again we’ll all gather together with our family and friends to honor our traditions and celebrate our beliefs. Some things come and go in our lives, but one constant tradition that has lasted for over 50 years here in the foothills of the Inland Empire, is the San Antonio Star. You might have missed it, but all it takes to see it is to pass by the Upland area on any freeway, or fly in to Ontario International Airport. My personal favorite way to view the star is to just stand out on Euclid and look northward towards the proverbial star to the north.
The star is lit every year on Thanksgiving day, and you can see it for miles all around. It was constructed in the mid 50’s by Mr. and Mrs. Hostelter, and was said to be a gift back to the twinkling lights of the city below. Back in those days it was a dimly lit star made of some planks of wood wrapped in Christmas lights. A simple gesture, that meant so much to the family and those below. The Hostelter family even said that they would sacrifice using their heating system in order to keep the star shining down on those below.
After the Hostelter home ended up in foreclosure, Ken Petschow, a local commercial pilot from San Antonio Heights took it upon himself to keep the tradition alive and formed the San Antonio Heights Star Association, and eventually Ken would inherit the star itself when he purchased the home in 1996.
This local symbol of community and togetherness has been lit in times of need as well. It shone brightly on the day of the September 11th attacks in New York, and Ken even lit it in defiance of a local fire that was burning through the neighborhood one summer. Neighbors recounted later the sound of popping bulbs, and sizzling plastic as they watched their beloved star go up, but of course it was rebuilt and lit again that Holiday season. Only once ever has the star not been lit for a holiday season, when thieves stole the copper wiring from the star shortly before it was lit. Despite these setbacks however, the star still had it’s impact, as the community around all put smaller brightly lit stars in their front yards in honor of the star and the following year it was rebuilt even larger thanks to community donations.
So when you find yourself on the west side of the 909 this year, be it for visiting family, or because you call it home, look up to the north and know that the glowing Star is a treasured community traditions that offers us all a symbol of hope and togetherness for the coming year, and many more to come.