Free event features more lights than ever

Lights

Austin American-Statesman - - COMMUNITY NEWS - B Pho­tos by Jay Jan­ner / amer­i­can-states­man Con­tact Jazmine Ul­loa at 445-3763. Twit­ter: @ jazmineul­loa A di­nosaur dec­o­ra­tion is one of the dis­plays at the Trail of Lights. Sun­day’s open­ing also in­cluded mu­sic and other en­ter­tain­ment.

to­gether ev­ery year,” said Yoli Salazar, 62, as she waited for the gates to open. “It was sad when it stopped.”

The Trail of Lights made a come­back this De­cem­ber thanks to con­tri­bu­tions from sev­eral lo­cal busi­nesses and non­profit groups and runs Dec. 16-23 at Zilker Park. Ad­mis­sion is free.

If the heavy traf­fic in the area was any in­di­ca­tion — long lines of cars were backed up on MoPac Boule­vard (Loop 1), wait­ing to exit just south of the river — the Austin hol­i­day clas­sic is a big hit once again.

The city scaled back the Trail of Lights in 2009 be­fore ax­ing it al­to­gether in 2010, cit­ing tough eco­nomic times, and an at­tempt to have a pri­vate com­pany op­er­ate the event last year failed to come to­gether.

No city of Austin funds will be spent this year on the Trail of Lights. And this year’s Trail of Lights fea­tured more lights than ever be­fore. The night also in­cluded per­for­mances by mu­si­cians and other en­ter­tain­ers.

Rick and Tara Thompson said they had been coming out to walk the trail nearly ev­ery year since the 1990s. When it shut down, they missed it so much that they even tried go­ing to a sim­i­lar event in Wim­ber­ley, they said. But it was not the same. Now they are glad it is back be­cause they get to share the tra­di­tion with their sons, Ben, 8, and Ni­cholas, 3, they said.

The hol­i­day sea­son “is about get­ting the fam­ily to­gether,” Rick Thompson said.

The Trail of Lights dis­play at Zilker Park adds color at the base of the Austin sky­line be­hind it. The dis­play will be open through Dec. 23.

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