Photo: President of the Trail of Lights Foundation, Mario Espinoza, and Mayor Lee Leffingwell. (Photo by Margaret Licarione)
BY NICOLE RANEY
Trail of Lights Foundation announced new and returning displays for this year’s 50th anniversary season at a press conference Monday morning.
Revived favorites from the past include the Trail of Lights globe, the Toy Machine, Tiny Town and (drum roll, please) the Yule Log.
In addition to the return of the Yule Log, there will also be two new displays: Candy Land and Santa’s Workshop.
For those new to the Trail of Lights experience, the Yule Log was the centerpiece of the festival for about four decades. In fact, Trail of Lights was named Yule Fest at one point because the lighting of the Yule Log was so popular.
However, about 10 years ago, the City of Austin stopped the tradition due to burn bans and Zilker Park’s newly installed irrigation systems. Now the Yule Log will be positioned in the sand volleyball courts with Austin Fire Department stationed on-site during event hours to keep the holiday blaze safe and secured.
In addition to the Yule Log and other old faves, there will also be two new displays: Candy Land, which comes with “demonstrations from local candy makers,” and an “interactive” Santa’s Workshop.
Many of the displays are sponsored by personal and corporate donations, but there is still a funding gap for 2014. The annual fundraising campaign will be "50-50-50" this year: Austinites have 50 days to raise $50,000 in honor of the 50th season of Trail of Lights. The campaign launches on Wednesday, October 1 and closes on November 17 and donations are accepted through this website.
Earlier this year the Trail of Lights Foundation announced that, for the first time, it would implement a fee for the event. On Friday, Saturday and Sunday evenings, the Trail of Lights will cost $3 for individuals age 12 and up. However, weeknights are still free. The new fee was approved by the Austin City Council to help pay for security and staffing on the weekends as well as encourage people to consider going throughout the week (when the event is less crowded).
No matter when you go, this Austin favorite is a great way to celebrate the holiday season. The 2014 Trail of Lights runs from December 7-21.
Source: Austin CultureMap http://austin.culturemap.com/news/city-life/09-29-14-old-traditions-return-for-the-50th-year-of-trail-of-lights/