Trail of Lights organizers preparing for extended, bigger event in 2013


by ASHLEY GOUDEAU / KVUE News and Photojournalist SCOTT McKENNEY

Bio | Email | Follow: @AshleyG_KVUE

Posted on December 26, 2012 at 7:17 PM

Updated Wednesday, Dec 26 at 7:41 PM

AUSTIN -- At Zilker Park the lights were off, crews were breaking down tents and others were putting away chairs Wednesday morning. Ten days ago, it was a much different site.

The Trail of Lights made a comeback this year after a two-year hiatus due to unsufficient funds.

"To bring my daughter back after so many years, I've been bringing her since she was little," said Irma Arguijo opening night. "It's just beautiful."

This year bands played, children danced, there was even a flash mob marriage proposal. Organizers say it was a success.

"It felt like Austin's Christmas was back," said TOL Producer Paul Carrozza. "The holiday season was well represented here. So exciting to have an open platform event. It's free, you can come whenever you want..The opening night was, you know, it could have been close to 100,000 people."

The trail was packed edge to edge for eight nights. That's the reason Steven Bailey didn't make it out to the park this year.

"It wasn't here for two years so I thought that it'd be nice to come back and see it before I went to college," said Bailey. "I heard it was really crowded, you couldn't see much from the trail and the lines were very, very long."

Carrozza said that will change next year. "If everyone approves, we'd like to extend it through New Year's Eve. And then cap it off with a ringing in the new year at the Zilker tree."

Organizers say they also want to make changes to the shuttle system. The number of shuttles doubled over the eight days that the trail was open from 30 to 60. A plan is in the works to have a designated route with less traffic and more buses.

Not only are organizers planning to extend the time, but expand the trail of lights as well- bringing in more displays next year.

"Our plan going forward is to get with the arts community and commission some new displays," said Carrozza. "And I think we all know what our favorites are, and we'll keep those."

A future trail with more lights and more time to see them; something Bailey says he'll gladly come home from college to see.

"That'll draw more of a crowd, but I think over two weeks it'll be a lot better."

TOL organizers also allowed non-profit organizations to set up booths to raise money at the event. That is something they also plan to do next year.