The Austin Trail of Lights had its grand opening on Sunday night. After a two year hiatus, Austin was clamoring to bring back this iconic tradition and many people joined together to make the event a reality. The trail was almost identical to years past so that Austinites could have a similar experience. The opening night ceremony lit up the Austin skyline while thousands stood in line to travel the trail. The night began with a number of supporters speaking to the significance of the Trail of Lights. Reporters Robert Hadlock and Leslie Rhode of KXAN started things off and then brought up mayor Lee Leffingwell and Paul Carrozza, CEO of RunTex who also put on the 5K Saturday night. Carrozza stated that Zilker Park should be lit during the holidays and that this is the time to celebrate family, community and giving back. He claimed in his opening speech that the city did not receive a single “no” from locals to whom they reached out to help sponsor. With a $1.2 million dollar price tag, it was no easy feat to come up with the funds but so many were willing to pitch in. Abby Sandlin, Managing Editor of Forefront Austin said: “We are really committed to making this a free event for the whole public…we want everybody to have a chance to come through and enjoy this. It’s a piece of Austin.” Jonathas Ojeda from Season 2 of The Voice also graced audiences with a rendition of Silent Night and this year’s trail was dedicated to the lives lost in the Sandy Brook shooting.
At slightly after 6:30, the entryway into the trail was lit and the magic began. First, sponsors and private supporters were able to ride through in horse drawn carriages. Once they had passed, the masses entered and were dazzled by nearly one million lights. Walking through the trail is a glimpse into all that the holidays have to offer. Some of the highlights include a nativity scene, Dr. Seuss display and a number of Disney themed set ups. Each section tells who was responsible for making that light fixture possible. The addition this year is the Trail of Lights Village made possible by Dell. 23 non-profit partners are participating in the GiveTogether program which allows Trail of
Lights walkers to donate and help these charities which are working directly in our city. Some of the non-profits were there on Sunday night to speak with people directly. Austin Parks Foundation was one of the eight in attendance because they are often a part of events going on at Zilker. They work in all the city parks throughout the area to help keep them used and beautiful . In addition, over the course of the eight day festival, HEB is going to give out 70,000 books to children. Volunteers from HEB were present to greet children and present them with a book suitable to their age.
The Trail of Lights is not over and continues every day through Sunday, December 23rd with the Grand Finale. Join any night and walk through Austin’s favorite reinvented tradition.
WHEN: Now through December 23rd from 6:30-10 p.m. nightly
2100 Barton Springs Road
Austin, Texas 78704