Christmas star shines bright for town residents

Stormi Adcock, 28, left, stands beside her great- grandfather Ronald Rossi, 92, outside his home on Fox Drive in Front Royal. Rossi put up this star in the front yard of his home in 1961. Rich Cooley/Daily

FRONT ROYAL – Residents know the holiday season is upon them when a bright star shines in the sky at the southern end of town.

More than 50 years have passed since the star first went up in the Front Royal Plaza. Ronald Rossi, 92, a longtime resident of Front Royal, is known as the “man with the star.”

To Rossi, the star meant the end of a construction job. Nothing more. A former steel worker, Rossi has erected 16 schools during his long career, but is most notably known for the Front Royal Plaza constructed in the early 1960s.

“We always put up a flag at the end of a job. It’s just something ironworkers do,” Rossi said. “But this time around, we didn’t have one. So we had to come up with another way to symbolize its completion.”

“We had a little bit of time left, so I decided to make a star out of left over scraps of tubing,” Rossi explained. “And I brought it up to the little house down the road after the construction was complete, put it up on a crane and there it stood.”

Ronald Rossi's star stands above his home on Fox Drive in Front Royal. At the top left of the photo is Strasburg Road and at the lower left is South Royal Avenue. Rich Cooley/Daily

The little house Rossi mentioned was his own home. The star only hung for one weekend after the construction of the plaza, which was around Christmas time. Rossi said that first weekend is what inspired the continuous display of the star every Christmas.

More than 50 years later, Rossi’s star remains a popular topic around town.

“People have put notes on my door over the years saying, ‘if you’ll please turn the star on, we’ll pay the electric bill’,” Rossi said. When the star was first erected, Rossi recalls that hundreds of residents would visit his road to see the star. “They would come and keep coming,” he said.

There was only one year the star didn’t make an appearance due to medical issues.

“I had taken it down and tossed it out by the house,” Rossi said. “Someone asked me when I was going to put the star back up. I had to go dig it out of the ground because trees had grown around it,” he said.

Stormi Rossi Adcock, 28, Rossi’s great-granddaughter, said she couldn’t believe the outpouring of love she saw on the Facebook group ‘What’s Up Front Royal,” a Facebook group for the community, when the star was turned on Dec. 1. “People are sharing all kinds of memories,” Adcock said. “It’s been overwhelming.”

Rossi has remained humble but Adcock said he enjoys hearing people’s stories and comments.

Town residents will notice the star shining a little brighter this year. Rossi decided to change the bulbs from a lower wattage to LED.   The star is run by a timer and turns on at 4:30 p.m. and turns off at 11:30 p.m. each evening.  It will remain lit until the end of December.

Should the star lights be on at other times of the year, Rossi said it’s because he’s memorializing an important moment.

“I turned it on when my wife passed away. I turned it on during those 16 days during Reagan’s presidency. And sometimes I just turn it on just because,” he said, adding those just-because moments are usually special requests from family members or children.

Rossi hopes that when he passes the community will continue to light the star.

“I’ll be 93 in March,” Rossi said. “But it’ll be up to them. They fell in love with it. I don’t know why. But they did.”