Crews light up Zilker Tree in test run


by JESSICA VESS / KVUE News & Photojournalist KENNETH NULL

Bio | Email | Follow: @JessicaV_KVUE

Posted on November 29, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Updated Thursday, Nov 29 at 10:32 AM

AUSTIN -- A glimpse of the holiday came early in Austin as crews flipped the switch on the iconic Zilker Tree.

Austin Energy came to check the bulbs prior to the official lighting this weekend. Crews began installing the lights at the beginning of the month. Since then drivers have watched the 155-foot tall tree stand still and dark. It’s a tradition to turn the lights on in the first weekend of December.
There are more than 3,000 bulbs on 39 streamers stretching up 137 feet. At the top of the tree sit two 10 foot stars. However the most notable lights of them all are the yellow bulbs. They’re specifically placed in every 10th spot. That placement is what gives the Zilker Tree its distinctive swirl.
“People here are die-hards and they believe in tradition,” said one Austinite during last year’s tree lighting. “The lighting of the tree on the first Sunday of December is very important.”
The lighting also marks the start of a returning tradition in Austin, the Trail of Lights. After a two-year hiatus, it’s back at Zilker Park.
Earlier this week electricians checked their work along the trail. It consists of 50 displays, dozens of statues and one million lights, but funding is low. Organizers must still raise about $100,000. Donations are still being accepted. If funds are raised, the trail is scheduled to light up in a few weeks.
As for the Zilker Tree, it’s still on schedule to light up this Sunday, Dec. 2. It will turn on again every night of December from 6 p.m. until midnight.

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