Austin Trail of Lights unveils 2014 event details, sponsorship deals

September 29, 2014

Photo: Austin Mayor Lee Leffingwell, center, and HEB Grocery Inc. Director of Public Affairs Leslie Sweet stand beside HEB mascot H-E-Buddy and a helpful Christmas elf on Monday in announcing details for the 2014 Trail of Lights at Zilker Park. (Margaret Licarione/courtesy image)

Austin Trail of Lights unveils 2014 event details, sponsorship deals

By Michael Theis, Digital Editor-Austin Business Journal

The Austin Trail of Lights Foundation on Monday unveiled plans for its 50th anniversary event later this year that include a new and improved trail, the return of its title sponsor, the return of the yule log display and a crowdfunding campaign to help the festival reach sustainable funding levels for 2014.

San Antonio-based HEB Grocery Co. will be the title sponsor for the third year in a row, and has signed a three-year extension on its sponsorship deal. Presenting sponsors include Seton Healthcare Family, Vista Equity Partners and KXAN-TV.

Cirrus Logic Inc., an Austin-based semiconductor company, will sponsor this year's yule log display to the tune of $25,000, the first time that the yule log will be included in the event in more than 10 years. The yule log was first lit in Austin in 1965 It was previously suspended as a result of burn bans in place in Zilker Park. This year, the yule log will be set up in front of the sand volleyball courts in Zilker Park.

This year's 1.25-mile long trail will include an interactive Santa's workshop, presented by Vista Equity, a Candy Land display presented by Robert Smith, Vista Equity chairman, the Toy Machine display, sponsored by Silicon Laboratories Inc., an updated Tiny Town display sponsored by Freescale Semiconductor, and a Trail of Lights Globe, sponsored by TheUniversity of Texas.

The Trail of Lights Foundation, despite the corporate donations, is also looking to crowdfund $50,000 as part of its annual 50-50-50 fundraising campaign, which kicks off Oct. 1. The campaign aims to raise $50,000 in 50 days in honor of the 50th Trail of Lights event.

“If 5,000 Austinites and Central Texans can donate $10 each, we will make great strides in attaining our goal of sustainability for the 2014 Trail of Lights and future years’ celebrations," said Mario Espinoza, chair of the Trail of Lights Foundation, in a statement.

Event planners are still looking for corporate sponsors through a variety of programs, including its Adopt-A-Display program and its Trim-A-Tree program.

This year's Trail of Lights kicks off Dec. 7 and runs through Dec. 21. Admission will be free on opening day and Mondays through Thursdays each week. Event-goers age 12 and up will have to pay $3 admission on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.