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MCADENVILLE, N.C. (AP) -- The Gaston County town of McAdenville is turning on the lights for its Christmas Town USA display.

This year marks the 55th annual display and features 500,000 lights on about 375 fir trees.

Officials estimate that about 600,000 people drive or walk through the town each year to see the lights and hear Christmas carols and chimes.

The tradition started in 1956 with the stringing of lights on a few trees and has grown to a large operation by Pharr Yarns and the town's 600 residents.

Mel Collins with Pharr Yarns says a growing number of visitors are walking through the display rather than taking part in the bumper-to-bumper drive-through each night.

The display runs through Dec. 26. The lights are on between 5:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. on weekdays and until 11 p.m. on Saturdays and Sundays.

Remember the weekends see the most traffic and the lights are on a timer so if you get in late, you could be left in the dark.

RECOMMENDED ROUTES TO MCADENVILLE

Traveling from Gastonia and points West and South...

Interstate 85
Travel North to exit 22, exit and follow signs.

Exit ramp 23 (Lowell-McAdenville exit - traveling north) will be closed whiletheChristmas Lights are on.

U.S. 29 - 74
Travel through Gastonia, turn left onto South Main Street (Town of Lowell) between Kia and McKenney car dealershipsand follow signs.

Traveling from Charlotte and points East and North...

Interstate 85
Travel South through Charlotte, once through Charlotte, travel approximately 7 miles. Cross the Catawba River, take exit 27 at the end of the exit ramp. Turn left, travel for about one mile, turn right onto US 29-74. Stay on US 29-74 for about 6 miles cross the South Folk Rivertravel 1 mile and turn right onto Wesleyan Drive (Town of McAdenville) or if you prefer to stay on I-85
continue South approximately 6 miles. Cross the South Fork River, leave Interstate 85
at exit 23 (Lowell-McAdenville exit).

U.S. 29 - 74
Travel West through Charlotte, once through Charlotte travel approximately 7 miles, cross the Catawba River, continue West for approximately 6 miles, cross the South Fork River After crossing the South Fork continue 1 mile turn right onto Wesleyan Drive (Town of McAdenville).

U.S. 29 - 74 is the recommended route for those traveling from the Charlotte area.

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