Goodnight Raleigh - a look at the art, architecture, history, and people of the city at night

A Ghost of Christmas Past

Photographing Raleigh’s Fayetteville St. Christmas Decorations

Holiday decorations on Fayetteville Street, Christmas 1965

A few nights ago John Morris and I visited Fayetteville St. and were bedazzled by the glittering Christmas lights lining the street.

I reminisced with John about the annual Raleigh Christmas parade which was held at night back in the 1960s (rather than on Saturday morning as it is now). My family would all head downtown for that event, and while Mom went shopping, Dad took my brothers and me to watch the parade.

We always staked out the corner at the Olivia Raney Library and Capitol Square. From that vantage point we could enjoy the parade as it made  its way up Hillsboro St., passed in front of the library before heading around the Square and then down Fayetteville St.

Afterwards, we would walk down Fayetteville St. to meet up with Mom. I remember being awestruck by the shimmering spectacle of the thousands of colored Christmas lights.

I related to John how I attempted back in 1965 to photograph the view down Fayetteville St. of the Christmas decorations at night. I found, however, that to my dismay, trying to capture all the colored lights on film was beyond the scope of my Kodak Instamatic camera.

Ultimately, the photograph ended up among the shuffle of the hundreds of photos I cranked out with my Instamatic back then. I only just recently ran across it again after all these years.

Holiday decorations on Fayetteville Street, Christmas 2008.

When I joined the Goodnight Raleigh team as a contributor about six months ago, I knew very little about digital photography, and even less about shooting photos at night.

In order to bring me up to speed as far as taking photos for this blog, John has been instructing me in the craft of nighttime photography. So, the other night when we were on Fayetteville St., I set up my tripod and took this present-day shot, trying to replicate the viewpoint of my earlier attempt of more than 40 years ago. Not bad for a novice, but I think I have a few more lessons ahead of me, don’t you?

In the coming new year be sure to look for future posts by Raleigh Boy on Goodnight Raleigh. I will be featuring, among other topics, the old Meredith College Building site, the demolition of Hugh Morson High School, moving the old State Bank building and my early years at Christ Church. All these posts will showcase my old black and white (and a few in color) Kodak photos of these sites, and will be accompanied by my 21st century nighttime recreations.

Happy Holidays, bloggers and fellow Raleighites!

The State Capitol at Christmas, 2008


Discuss Raleigh

  • Recent Comments:

    • James: I spent a lot of time down there as a kid in the late 80’s early 90’s – I ended up exploring...
    • Jeff Deal: I have many fond memories of the Water Garden. My late father was a sculptor and painter and displayed...
    • project igi 3 download: Bookmarked this web page, will come back for more articles.
    • Val: Sad that due to the history that they could not keep it open. My parents met her in the sixties and worked at...
    • Rowell Gormon: This site has been so fascinating to read, just like the house itself. Some time after the State...
    • Fritz Hamer: I am a historian trying to learn more about Chalmers Wessinger, A South Carolina native who is supposed...
    • Crab L: This article is indeed mind provoking… I will definitely share this with my communities…
    • DJ FM: Ha, and 10 years later I comment again on this post. I was one of two resident DJs for this event from...


  •