Thousands turned out for the inaugural "Night of the Bat" celebration in downtown Austin Sunday. They flocked to the festivities on the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge.
“It's pretty cool and something that Austin has," said Katie Payne, who showed up as Batgirl. “I'm from Chicago. We don't have ‘Night of the Bat.’ We have ‘Dye the River Green,’ and everyone gets drunk.”
They came to celebrate some of Austin's nocturnal creatures. Some people even dressed up as bats. The original Batman, Adam West, rode down the bridge in the Batmobile.
People rocked out to a free concert by the Band of Heathens.
Austin is home to the largest urban bat colony in the world with more than 1.5 million Mexican Free-Tail bats living in the bridge. The winged animals eat about 15 tons of insects.
“Austin has become a beacon of light in the world for educating people worldwide to get over their fears," says Merlin Tuttle with Bat Conservation International. "The City is teaching people to understand that bats have value to be safe neighbors."
Those who line the bridge say they never grow tired of watching these furry, fanged friends and look forward to next year's “Night of the Bat.”
More than 125,000 people visit Austin each year to watch the flight of the bats, generating about $12 million in tourism revenue.