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The Market & Johnson Star

Stars lighting up Western Wisconsin since 1974
Published: Dec. 24, 2020 at 2:47 PM CST
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EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) - For nearly a half century, stars have lit up the sky across western Wisconsin during the holiday season. WEAU’s Bob Gallaher shares the story behind the Market & Johnson “star” and how those stars have shined brightly on hundreds on construction projects.

“In ’74, downtown Eau Claire was like what we hope for today, the center of the city, very busy, and we were building the Hilton hotel at the time (which is now the Lismore) and we had our crane there and we knew we could put something out over the street. We just thought it was a cool idea to hang a star out there for all the shoppers up and down Barstow Street and it became quite a success,” says Dan Market, Market & Johnson Chairman.

Market says the Market & Johnson star gets plenty of compliments especially the one’s they put over hospitals.

“I remember one year, we had one over St. Joe’s Hospital in Marshfield and one of the sisters recognized that it was hanging right over the future intensive care unit and that’s happened here in Eau Claire, at Mayo... It just kind of adds a little bit of spirit to people, and especially this year with COVID and everything,” says Market.

2020 has been a challenging year for the world. Market & Johnson President Jerry Shea told his employees that people would look to the stars to provide a beacon of hope including the Christmas Star hanging over Spirit Lutheran Church.

“This is going to be a special year, people are going to be looking for help, and our stars are probably going to have a lot more meaning, we didn’t know how much. And so when the stars went up we started to get feed back right away even more so than we normally did. This year with people having to do things differently that they normally do, it’s something that is going to give them more thing to kind of give them hope that we can get back to normal again soon,” says Shea.

Eau Claire’s most visible star is the one atop the ongoing construction site at Mount Washington ski jump. The new 55-meter jump is set to debut in February 2021.

Dan Mattoon, Eau Claire Flying Eagles Ski Club member says, “Yeah, it’s exciting having Market & Johnson sponsor our star on top of our ski jump, and all that they’ve done for us has been pretty amazing. And it certainly touches my heart every time I come home in the evening to see that beautiful star.”

Stars have helped us navigate through our existence and will continue to light up the sky guiding people especially on this, the holiest of nights.

“Star of Jesus Christ on top of the ski jump here, we all feel a little bit better, a little warmer as we go forward into Christmas.... We’re really excited about Christmas eve this year,” says Mattoon.

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