The sure thing: Drive up to the plant on Route 151 at night. The property is largely pitch black these days, its buildings silent, its blast furnace cold. The star stands out in the darkness.

Don Krtanjek, a former maintenance manager at Sparrows Point, said his team "used to get all kinds of calls around Thanksgiving" — reminders to turn the star on. Just in case he'd forgotten.

It was no small effort. The furnace had to be shut down to allow electricians to go up to the top. Every year, they changed all of the bulbs.

"But it was worth it," Krtanjek said. "A lot of people liked it. They brought their kids down to see it."

Moyer brought everybody. Kids, grandkids, great-grandkids. He was that proud of it. He said he even built a star of his own, a copy of sorts for his then newborn son, and installed it atop a 70-foot pine in his front yard.

A few years ago, the tree died. He had to take it — and his star — down.

"Now the steel mill's closed," Moyer said, reflecting on the end of his employer and the looming end of the other, larger star. "It's heartbreaking."

jhopkins@baltsun.com

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