Community tree lighting is commonplace in many communities around the world. But in Kilgore, Texas, it’s A Very Derrick Christmas as stars atop oil derrick replicas are lit to honor the city’s history.
“It was October 3, 1930 when the Daisy Bradford #3 came in at 6,000 barrels of oil a day changing the future of the communities of East Texas,” says Olivia Moore, East Texas Oil Museum Director.
During the following months and years, other wells came in helping define the East Texas Oil Field which is just over 45 miles from north to south and five and a half miles wide.
During the 1930’s there were lots of jobs and lots of work, which helped shield East Texans from the Great Depression and offered opportunities for those from around the country looking for work.
“The City of Kilgore went from a population of 800 to 8,000 practically overnight and grew to over 12,000 during the Boom,” Moore says. “One downtown area is a park designated as ‘The World’s Richest Arce.’ Here more than 2.5 million barrels of oil were produced. Wooden derricks went up all over the city.”
Today, steel derrick replicas are in place commemorating those original long-gone wooden derricks. “The derricks are thanks to the Kilgore Historical Preservation Society. They are lit with Christmas lights and large stars each holiday season, earning Kilgore the moniker ‘City of Stars.’
Although the East Texas Oil Field is still producing, the replica derricks across the city are a reminder of the by-gone time when oil helped to grow and build this community and other communities in East Texas.
At the celebration, local performers including the world-famous Kilgore College Rangerettes start the festivities. Santa is on hand and games are available for children where everyone is a winner. Booths selling festival-food and handmade crafts line the streets and at the precise time, local honorees flip the switch and the stars shine again for the holiday season.
The holidays are celebrated in many different ways, but every year, the folks in Kilgore get together to celebrate Christmas and their history.