Pacolet Lights

Pacolet Christmas Lights-004

Pacolet Christmas Lights

A couple of weeks ago I visited the small Spartanburg County town of Pacolet, and noticed that they were wrapping everything in Christmas lights. I decided that we really needed to come back after dark and see what was going on. So, the other evening Laura and I headed out to see the end result.

Really, there is no good way to get to Pacolet from Greenville. It’s completely out of the way, and this could turn out to be a bust. To make the most of it, our plan was to drive straight there, then slowly make our way back through various other neighborhoods looking for lights. So, we headed up I-85 toward Spartanburg.

As we reached downtown Spartanburg it looked like their Christmas parade was just breaking up. Somehow we managed to skirt the worst of the traffic areas. As we headed south out of Spartanburg things seemed a bit…dim. In fairness, this passes through an industrial area and there aren’t that many lights, but even as we approached Pacolet it still seemed very dark. Laura was skeptical.

Soon, though, we reached the town. A couple of residents had decked their yards, but there was nothing over the top. Eventually we reached the mill village where I had seen workers stringing lights. There was quite a display going on.

Pacolet Christmas Lights-004

Most of the lights were in the amphitheater area where the old schools were. As we drove onto the grounds we were greeted by an older gentleman who asked where we were from. When we said Greenville, he said that we must have seen their star and headed this way. Mmm….yeah, right.

He was nice enough, and gave us some background about the lights and the location. He seemed particularly proud that General William Westmoreland had attended Pacolet schools. We made a donation for the lights, and left us with a nice parting gift…

Holy Land Calendar

…complete with Bible verses for each day.

Laura and I parked and wandered around the lights and displays. While not as over-the-top as I might have expected, it was still a nice display. There were various tableaux over the old school and amphitheater areas. It was cold, and we hadn’t dressed for the weather, so we kept our wanderings brief.

Pacolet Christmas Lights-005
Pacolet Christmas Lights-006
Pacolet Christmas Lights
Pacolet Christmas Lights-001
Pacolet Christmas Lights-003

This was Laura’s first visit to the area, and her comment was that Pacolet is a place where “stuff was.” Even our Christmas lights host’s comments bore this out. “That over there was where the old Victor Hotel was. This is where the old schools were. The old textile mill used to be down there.” To quote Commodore Decker, “It was, but not anymore!”

We took a leisurely route back toward Greenville, taking in the residential holiday lights along the way. There were quite a few to rival the Pacolet lights, on a bit smaller scale. Eventually we made it back to the town of Lyman, where we had rumor of a spectacular display. We found it, just off of Holly Springs Road. It was a grand display of multi-colored lights and plastic statuary. In the garage a scene depicting Santa’s workshop could be seen through the picture windows. I had to wonder what the neighbors think.

Lyman Christmas Lights-003
Lyman Christmas Lights-002

We’ll have to head back out on another lights run. One of these days I want to get down to Pelzer to see the “Light People.” There are two amazing animated, coordinated displays in the area – one here in Greenville just off of Wade Hampton, and one down in Moore. I think another light trek is necessary.

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1 Comment

  1. Ken Cothran says:

    “It was, but not anymore!”
    You know, that is a great commentary on so many communities where the “means d’etre” went away. Mill communities, particularly. Or industrial cities in the MidWest. Or old downtowns often. I guess that it’s a reprise, in a way, of those cities in Europe that flourished in antiquity but lay in ruins with a small village left (like Athens) for millennia. I guess, to their credit, they “were” at one time, whereas some places “never were.” I think of where my parents grew up, which had precious few amenities over the years because people didn’t work together and there was no organizing principal. There’s some sort of deep social commentary to be found in these stories and images.

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