Llano grad, Navy vet creates lighting scheme for Alamo

DANIEL CLIFTON • PICAYUNE EDITOR

SAN ANTONIO — About a year ago, Joel Mayor and his wife, Beth, were on the Riverwalk in San Antonio one night when he noticed the Alamo.

Well, it wasn’t so much the Alamo, itself, but the lighting illuminating Texas’ historic icon.

“It was terrible,” Mayor said. “It didn’t look like something a state shrine should have on it.”

Mayor, who owns Texas Outdoor Lighting, which specializes in creating lighting packages that present homes in the best possible illumination, decided he was going to do something about the Alamo’s lighting. Soon after he got home, Mayor began contacting the people in charge of the mission. Their reply was, “Send us something, and we’ll look at it.”

So Mayor created a plan using modern, energy-saving LED lights and sent it off.

While he waited, Mayor learned other companies had approached the Alamo about doing the same thing he was proposing, but with little success, mostly because of the cost of installation and materials. As a state-owned landmark — but one operated by the Daughter of the Republic of Texas — the Alamo wasn’t flush with cash.

Mayor, a 2000 Llano High School graduate, served in the Navy as an aviation electronic’s mate before his honorable discharge. After learning the ropes of exterior lighting, he and his wife started Texas Outdoor Lighting in 2007.

Though the company predominately focuses on residential lighting, the Mayors couldn’t pass up the opportunity to tackle the Alamo if it came their way.

A couple of months after submitting his idea, the Alamo officials contacted Mayor in March. Mayor submitted a mock-up of the lighting scheme and how it would look on the Alamo’s exterior.

The officials liked what they saw.

Knowing the LED lighting was top of the line and expensive, Mayor and the light company he works with decided to do it all on the house.

“This is, after all, one of the most sacred pieces of Texas history,” Mayor said.

After much review, the Alamo officials gave Mayor’s plan the thumbs-up. The project only included lighting for the exterior portion of the Alamo, not the interior or outside grounds.

The caveat for completing the project was all the work had to be done at night and everything had to be set in such a way the Alamo could be open during regular hours. Mayor understood the constraints (he often works at night on projects).

The crew went to work in early October. Despite the design approval, Mayor’s nerves rattled a bit the first time he and workers started cutting into the ground to set in lights and wiring.

“I actually felt like vomiting, I was so nervous,” he said.

But everything went as planned. Each night for three nights, the crew wrapped up work so daily visitors still could go in and out of the Alamo. There were certain challenges when developing a project such as this compared to the typical residential lighting. Mayor said some of the lighting’s housing was set in high-foot-traffic areas.

“(The housing) had to be something that could handle, you know, a million feet a year stepping on them,” Mayor said.

The new system not only adds a much better light to the Alamo, it also will save the state a tremendous amount on energy costs.

“It’s going to save a ton of money,” Mayor said.

When it was done, officials and others liked the results.

“They’re talking about having us come back and do the interior and other lighting as well,” he said.

For Mayor and his wife, this just wasn’t another project.

“I don’t think it’s sunk in yet,” he said. “It’s a special place; it’s the Alamo. I feel really blessed to be the one who got to do this.”

Go to www.texasoutdoorlighting.com for more information on Mayor’s company and work.

daniel@thepicayune.com