The Stars of Brisbane

BY: Dolores Gomez, Brisbane historian,

Much appreciation to the Brisbane chamber of Commerce for continued support of the 84 year tradition of five point stars. That’s where Brisbane’s reputation as City of Stars comes from. The wood-frame stars (lights not included) nowadays range from three to eight feet. Traditionally the stars are lit at 5:30 in the afternoon on Sunday December 7th to announce the annual Festival of the Tree Lighting ceremony.

Thanks to the generosity of Golden state Lumber Company, for their donation of lumber; the Brisbane Hardware for nails, tools and materials for making stars. Also a salute goes to Chamber member Dan Sorrentino who delivers the wood and materials to “Skipper” Bob Wilson, the star maker.

This tradition started in the mid 1930’s, high up on the hill at 326 Kings Road. Mr. Gagnier put up a lighted star for the Christmas Holiday. Gagnier’s star stood out boldly, as there were not many houses high on the hills back then. Soon other residents in town began to put stars on their homes. By the early 1940’s, founding Chamber board members Arthur Kennedy and Dick Schroder, with original members, Frank Walsh and Richard “Dick” Hosking started distributing the stars free of charge to Brisbane businesses and residents. Frank Walsh and Dick Hosking assembled the simple 5 point, 10 foot stars in the back of the Brisbane Hardware Store. My father, Dick, laid out the materials to assemble the ten foot stars in our large cement yard months before December. I had to tip toe through the wood and all sorts of materials in the yard to get to the stairs. He was always dedicated to get stars up for the Christmas season almost to the point of obsession! Leaving early in the morning, many times he’d be gone for the day putting up stars for senior residents. After putting up the star, he would visit, have a holiday drink or two and at times returned home a bit lit up. One year, my husband Johnny was slow in putting up our star, so my father came and took it to give to someone else!

Lighted stars were anchored to balconies or roofs and later stored until the next year. Dad worked constantly with Mr. Walsh and others in obtaining materials to create more stars. All were diligent at promoting and distributing stars during the holiday season.

Thanks to the Brisbane Chamber of Commerce and those who are still contributing their time working to keep the “Star” symbol on Brisbane homes. What a wonderful sight it is to see, those bright colorful stars still shining in Brisbane and to be called “The City of Stars.”