Trail of Lights

Filipa Rodrigues for KUT News

With the Yuletide season in full swing, Austin turns into a wonderland of lights.

This holiday season, KUT made the trek to the Trail of Lights to ask Austinites what makes the recently-revived light show a family tradition. 

twitter.com/RunTex

RunTex is losing its prime store location on Riverside Drive and South First Street. The Austin-American Statesman reports the company is being evicted because they didn’t pay the $20,000/month rent. But there’s also the fact that the location is reportedly set to become a mixed-use development.

As far as criticism of his business decisions go, RunTex owner Paul Carrozza told KUT News he’s learned a “valuable lesson and an expensive lesson around expansion and what it takes to go from one store to five stores.”

Looking forward, Carrozza says RunTex will continue its commitment to fitness and creating a healthier Austin. He says that may mean that retail sales become less of a priority.

Beth Cortez Neavel for KUT News

After a few months of getting danced on at the Austin City Limits festival and lit up for the Trail of Lights, Zilker Park’s Great Lawn will fully reopen on Friday.

The park had been fully or partially closed for the festivals and maintenance since early October. Officials say there shouldn’t be any chain-link fencing to get in park-goers’ way until the run-up for the two-weekend ACL festival later this year.

Beth Cortez Neavel for KUT News

Part of Zilker Park’s Great Lawn is back open for public use—but only for a couple of weeks.

The entire Great Lawn had been closed since Oct. 1 in preparation for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. It’s remained closed for maintenance after the festival.

Now, the southwest portion of the Great Lawn and the volleyball courts are back open. But the areas will be closed again starting Nov. 19 for setup for the Trail of Lights Festival.

Mark Dewey for KUT News

The man who promised Austin a 2012 Trail of Lights says he will deliver.

Local running shoe store owner Paul Carrozza, through his RunTex Foundation,  tells KUT News that he has put together the pieces of a $1.2 million dollar financing package. "We've raised enough to make it happen," says Carrozza. He says grocery chain H-E-B made the biggest commitment, followed by Dell, Samsung, Seton, and Vista Equity Partners. More sponsors are in the works.

"I felt strongly that we should keep it free to the public, and keep it free to the taxpayer, and that the community would support it through corporate underwriting, business sponsorships, and individual giving."

Photo courtesy flickr.com/maddcovv

Nearly four hours into today’s Austin City Council meeting, and it’s still barely getting started.

While action hasn't yet occurred on several high-profile items, the council approved Item 15, which should bring back the Trail of Lights this holiday season under the sponsorship of the RunTex Foundation. As we’ve written, the foundation plans to raise at least $500,000 three months prior to the event, which would then be appropriated to city departments. The total cost of the event is tabulated at $716,078, including city fee waivers.

RunTex founder Paul Carrozza tells KUT News the foundation’s goal is to “keep it free to the public, keep it free to the taxpayer, and bring it back to the grandeur of 2007, 2008 when it was at its peak.” Asked how the RunTex Foundation saw itself successfully sponsoring the event following an abandoned attempt by another company last year, Carrozza predicted “building collaborations with sponsors – the business community and corporate community of Austin, along with volunteerism and nonprofits. I feel like I can reach out with the support of the city and the mayor, and talk to the right people in the corporations – give them a value that would be worth investing in.”

Photo courtesy flickr.com/maddcovv

The Trail of Lights is an Austin tradition dating back decades – or was, until it went dark due to city budget cuts in 2009.

That may no longer be the case, as an item before the Austin City Council this week would see the RunTex Foundation – an arm of the local running store and marathon sponsor – bringing the Trail of Lights back to Zilker Park this holiday season.

Backup materials on the agenda item state:

[The Parks and Recreation Department] received an unsolicited proposal regarding the production of a 2012 Trail of Lights from the RunTex Foundation (RTF). RTF seeks to partner with the city to bring back the “traditional” Trail of Lights (TOL) Holiday Festival that will offer an 8-night, family-friendly lighted trail and entertainment at no cost to the citizens of Austin. Recognizing the need to generate funding for this event, RTF proposes to conduct a major fund raising campaign to reimburse the City of Austin for all direct costs associated with the production of this event.

Photo by satosphere http://www.flickr.com/photos/sathishcj/

For the third year in a row, Austin's Trail of Lights won't happen this holiday season.

Organizers had set a fundraising milestone of $250,000 by today in order to reach the $1 million necessary to host what used to be an annual Austin tradition: a mile long trail through Zilker Park, surrounded with holiday light displays. But they didn’t meet that goal.

“It’s just deeply, deeply disappointing that we weren’t able to raise the revenue that we needed ahead of time,” said Amy Vercruysse with BrightBlue Marketing, the company that had been contracted by the city to organize the event.

An event at Seaholm Power Plant that was supposed to feature local food trucks like Austin Daily Press and Hey Cupcake! along with other artists and vendors has been canceled due to "red tape", according to a blog post by organizer Tiffany Harelik.