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A Birmingham tradition: Regions lights up tower for Christmas season

Every year at midnight on Thanksgiving Day, the Christmas season begins. Every city has its own holiday traditions that make the Christmas season special.

Birmingham has one that’s hard to miss.

One of those uniquely Birmingham Christmas traditions for many years has been the giant light up Christmas scenes that are displayed every year on the sides of the Regions Center headquarters — a 30-story tall building in downtown Birmingham.

The company has designs of a Christmas wreath, a Christmas stocking and two Christmas trees — one for each exterior wall of the building. The scenes can be seen for dozens of blocks and add a festive feel to Birmingham this time of year.

(Regions Bank)

This annual holiday display is actually a lot of work for the company. Over the last couple months, crews have been combing through the building making sure roughly 2,500 windows are ready to glow red, green, and white to form the giant Christmas trees, the massive wreath, and the huge stocking that adorn the Regions Center nightly during the holiday season every year.

The Regions Center building was constructed in 1971 as the First National-Southern Natural Building. Before the 2006 merger between Regions and AmSouth the building was known as the AmSouth Center, and the AmSouth-Sonat Tower.

The 390-foot tall, 30 story office tower is located on a 400 foot by 190-foot site at 1960 5th Avenue North. The 570,000 square-foot tower serves as corporate headquarters for the Regions Financial Corporation.

“The details on how it all started have been hard to pinpoint, but the story goes that one of the executives for the Southern Natural Gas company traveled to Houston, Texas, during the holidays,” explained Michael Bianca, corporate property relationship manager for Regions Bank.

(Regions Bank)

“During that trip, he saw a building that had a similar ‘curtain wall’ design, and that building had a Christmas display created by lights in the windows. He came back to Birmingham and said, ‘We’ve got to do something like that here.’ And that’s what led to the Christmas display that’s been illuminating our skyline during the holidays for over 40 years.”

The exterior of the building was designed with perimeter lighting. There are 2,700 fluorescent tubes set between the window blinds and the exterior glass of the curtain. Those are the tubes that are covered with gel sleeves to produce the distinctive designs that have become synonymous with Christmas in Birmingham.

The current lighting design has been used since 1977.

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