November 2015

This month’s Featured Artist is actually a composite of many inventive Ashlanders (dubbed “Team LUTT”) who are collaborating to create a very exciting holiday project called “Light Up the Tracks.”  The project has one goal: To transform Ashland into a mile-long holiday greeting card for train travelers, residents and visitors. From the Grand Illumination ceremony and choral recital for all Ashlanders on Dec. 5th (5:30 pm, from the front porches of the Henry Clay Inn, next to the train station) until New Year’s Day, the trackside homes, businesses and Randolph Macon College will be strung with twinking white lights from one end of town to the other.  All residents and businesses of the town and county are encouraged to expand the festive fun by stringing lights outside their homes and shops, too.  At the center of town, where Rte. 54 crosses the tracks, a 20′ community tree will be adorned with colored lights as well as decorations crafted by local schoolchildren from recyclable materials.  (Photo below)

 The unique celebration has attracted the interest and participation from both CSX and Amtrak.   Both plan to help promote the event and to shoot nighttime footage along the tracks, then provide news clips to the media.  Ashland organizers predict lots of regional coverage and the growing possibility of national exposure — all designed to delight area residents, to attract visitors and shoppers during the holidays, and to increase overall awareness of Ashland, “Center of the Universe.”

“Light Up the Tracks” was conceived by Dan Bartges, a board member of the Ashland Main Street Association (AMSA) and co-chairperson of the event’s steering committee.  The idea was proposed to AMSA, then to the Town of Ashland staff, town council, CSX and Amtrak and has sparked their enthusiastic support.  Lauren Thompson, the ad hoc committee’s other co-chairperson, has enlisted the talents and participation of the college, homeowners and specialty experts such as Sue Watson , Lorie Foley and Ann Martin, who are spearheading the Grand Illumination and choral performance on Dec. 5th.  Town Manager Charles Hartgrove and Police Chief Doug Goodman are leading the town’s various efforts such as decorating the train station with lights and controlling traffic during the Grand Illumination.  Town councilman Steve Trivett suggested the idea of the community tree, and longtime resident Phyllis Theroux came up with the event’s name.    Ashland attorney Bill Hamner provided legal guidance for the event. Tommy Thomasson has crafted the tree-topper ornament, and ACE Hardware’s Robert Traweek provided a discount for the strings of lights.  Glenn Terrell of Terrell’s Tree & Lawn Service is stringing the lights on all the commercial buildings along the tracks, and Mike Hildebrand of James River Nurseries is donating the live community tree and planting it.


Steve Tribble of Tribble Electric has donated his technical expertise, and Paul Davies is orchestrating Randolph Macon’s participation.  Carolyn Peart is mounting the media publicity efforts, and Jen Chambers is in charge of public relations. The list goes on and on of the many talented residents and business people who are donating their time, energy, creativity and love of Ashland to help Light Up the Tracks!

Note the time line below and stay tuned for details about film crews and more!


Nov 5: Lights will be strung on the tree and surrounding shrubs/trees.

Nov 8-10: Lights will be strung on all commercial buildings along the tracks as well as on the  Ashland Library and Train Station.  Residents along Center Street are encouraged to light up their properties in readiness for potential filming the week of November 16th.  Stay tuned for details!

Nov 11:  The Ashland Public Library will hold an ornament-making class for kids 5-10 years old to help decorate the holiday tree.
Nov 30: All Ashland residents, young and old, who want to sing in the Community Chorus at the Grand Illumination on Dec. 5 are invited to the chorus’s one-and-only rehearsal at Ashland Christian Church (301 S. James St) at 5:30pm.
Dec 5: 5:30pm  LIGHT UP THE TRACKS!