The Christmas Star Shall Shine Once More
An object that I had always seen at Christmas time for the past 55 years, disappeared after the fires in 2003 had destroyed it and then again, after being rebuilt, when vandals stole it in 2006....I and many others thought, that we would never seen the Christmas Star ever again.....It has been a symbol of the Inland Empire....And it is back.
Ken Petschow said the lighted 30-foot star that for years has been seen from Thanksgiving to the first week of January on his hillside property will be back this holiday season.. "It'll make a good Christmas for everyone," he said.. Its return can be attributed to donations, Petschow's own funds and having enough preparation time, he said.
The star, which shines so brightly it can be seen from Chino Valley, Ontario and Upland, has been a community presence since the 1950s........Reconstruction should start next week, giving Petschow, 44, enough time to finish before its debut in November.
The star has been through a lot.... On June 20, 2006, thieves came onto Petschow's hillside property and stole copper electrical wiring worth about $15,000.. The wire was found three days later at a Fontana recycling center, but Petschow said it was so tangled it would have cost a small fortune to make usable.
As a result, for what is believed to be the first time since it was built, the star was dark last holiday season..... "Last year, it was almost like something we normally had was missing," said Daniel Young, a resident since 1979 of San Antonio Heights... Young said it was great news to hear that in just a few months the star would again glow.
"It is so great to drive up Euclid and see that shining star," Young said.. In 2003, the Grand Prix Fire ripped through the San Gabriel Mountains, destroying hundreds of houses in the region and devastating lives... Petschow's house, along with the star, was burned to the ground.... Many anticipated that the fire would end the star's reign, but residents were determined that wouldn't happen.
Community members raised about $20,000 to rebuild the star in time for the 2003 holiday season.... Petschow said there is still some money left in the fund, which will help with this year's reconstruction.
The star has for years been a sparkling symbol of pride in San Antonio Heights... During the 1950s, the Hostetler family, which originally owned the hillside land, fashioned a star decoration that was made of wood and a string of lights... It became a staple in the community during the holidays, a tradition lasting longer than 40 years and through three different property owners, Petschow said.. The Hostetler's Kids went to school with me, and every year they were pounded with questions about when there dad was going to put up the star.. In fact that's how we got the tradition of putting lights up for Christmas.... We put our lights up on Thanksgiving Weekend and we have a large star in the center of our roof.
In 1996, Petschow became the fourth person to buy the property, located high on a slope above 26th Street.... The star eventually was redesigned using spare Air Force aircraft material... Petschow is also working on rebuilding his house, but design changes have delayed that process.
The star will be up before his house, and he will use a large crane to hold up the structure until he can create something more permanent, Petschow said... "It might sound corny, but that star means a lot to the community," said Cindy Segal, 48, a resident of San Antonio Heights for 10 years.... She said she looks for the star when she flies in December, and that last year it was sorely missed. "I make sure to sit on the right side of the plane so I can see it," Segal said... She remembers specific moments about the star, like during the 2003 fires when she heard it explode or when it was lit during a vigil after the terrorist attacks on Sept. 11, 2001.. ."It's been a little sign of hope for us," Segal said.