WE say: austin holidays
Trail of Lights features old and new
back, Trail of Lights. After a two-year absence, the popular event and Austin tradition returns. The lights — nearly 1 million of them spread along a 1.25-mile path in Zilker Park — go on Sunday. The event, organizers say, will blend some of the old with the new for a fuller, more entertaining holiday experience that celebrates Austin.
We like where they’re going with that.
There will be many old-school displays in the 36 exhibits spread across the trail, but some of those now will be powered with energy-efficient LED bulbs that burn brighter, yet use 75 percent less energy. That is an improvement. It will feel more like an event with 20 food trailers on site and a lot more entertainment lined up for its run through Dec. 23. In an effort to raise community awareness, 20 nonprofits will be part of the event.
“It has taken many hands to make these lights work,” said Jay Watson, CEO of Forefront Austin, an organizer of the event. “The next step is to turn them on. We want to bring the community together and have a good time.”
Each night will feature a theme, kicking off Sunday with “Light it Up!” Opening night festivities include performances by local entertainers. That will be followed on Monday with “Heroes Night,” saluting members of the military and public service Rep. Myra Crownover of Denton, chairwoman of the Republican caucus in the Texas House, and Rep.Trey Martinez Fischer of San Antonio, chairman of the Mexican-American Legislative Caucus, comment on the upcoming session.On the Viewpoints page. employees. The cost is free, so bring the family and stay awhile. For more information, go to austintrailoflights. org.
What the public won’t see is the hard work of organizers, fundraisers and many volunteers who stepped up to resurrect the trail after the city cut it from its budget. For many years the city spent about $1 million to produce the Trail of Lights, a longstanding Austin tradition along with setting up the Zilker Tree, with its lights strung on a 155-foot pole. The city continued the latter but ultimately allowed the Trail of Lights to go dark in 2010 to divert more money to maintaining city parks.
It was a decision that left a void in Austin’s holiday season. City officials hoped that private sponsors would pick up the slack, which they have done. It will cost $1.2 million to keep those lights twinkling, much of which has been raised from private donors, big and small.
“I’m very grateful for the commit-
This year’s Trail of Lights includes nearly 1 million lights in 36 exhibits in Zilker Park. The lights are energy-efficient LED bulbs.