In the Mad River Valley the 20 mile stretch of winding road from Moretown to Warren in darkest winter is studded with brightly lit stars of all shapes and sizes.

Reign Vermont's Stars

Bridget LaMell’s shop, Reign Vermont.

Standing anywhere from 3 to 15 feet in height and beckoning to visitors and locals alike, they can be found on residential lawns and hanging from the front of shops, businesses and barns.

A year after tropical storm Irene, Bridget LaMell, who owns Reign Vermont, wanted to draw attention to her shop which sits a bit back and closer to the Mad River than the other historic buildings surrounding the covered bridge in Historic Waitsfield Village. Bridget created a few simple stars made out of tree saplings and wound Christmas lights around them. People loved them — it created a whimsical tableau which charmed people driving by on Route 100.

Stars on the covered bridge.

Historic Waitsfield Bridge.

As a result of these attractive stars, neighboring residents and business owners got together in late fall the next year to create a multitude of new ones using found materials and pooling their money to buy the lights. By 2014, the shops at Historic Waitsfield Village were ablaze with lights setting Historic Waitsfield Village apart. Since then, the stars have created a unifying theme which now extends all the way to Warren.

In October of 2016 numerous locations displayed five stars together. This display is in honor and remembrance five of the valley’s high school students who were killed by a wrong way driver on Interstate 89.

Shop window stars.

Stars in the window of Valley Arts Foundation.

Currently there are over 500 celestial creations, all hand made, shining brightly in the valley and taking the darkness out of the long winter evenings. Each year more and more are being added by residents, perhaps the idea will catch on and Route 100 will become Vermont’s Route of the Stars.

Or… are these brightly shining stars here because as the shooting stars fall from the heavens they look for the most beautiful place in Vermont to land and they choose the Mad River Valley.