A concept rendering for a sandy beach along Lake Marble Falls at Lakeside Park shows the proposed proximity to Lakeside Pavilion. The Marble Falls City Council on Dec. 4 awarded a contract to Myers Concrete Construction to build the beach as part of Project Phase 1A. Shallow water inside the lake wall will let beachgoers splash in the water inside. The project also will somewhat affect the layout of the Walkway of Lights but is not causing the popular Christmas event to go away. Rendering courtesy of the City of Marble Falls
STAFF WRITER JARED FIELDS
News of a $3.2 million contract awarded for Marble Falls park improvements quickly sparked words of remorse for the supposed loss of the beloved Walkway of Lights.
Commenters on the DailyTrib.com Facebook page interpreted a story about work on a sandy beach at Lakeside Park as the end of the annual holiday lights display, held every winter in the same location for the past 28 years.
The city plans for the beach to be constructed early next year as Lake Marble Falls is lowered.
Going straight to the source for Walkway of Lights — the Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce — revealed a different fate for the event.
“We’re still having it,” said Brandi Payne, special events coordinator. “It’s too much of a tradition for too many people.”
Yes, the layout changed this year — for two reasons.
One: The Lower Colorado River Authority’s planned lowering of Lake Marble Falls was always going to reduce the area for the 2018 display. The LCRA is using the land below Lakeside Pavilion where “Santa Land” has previously been located as a staging area for equipment. The lake lowering also is the reason the event ends Dec. 26 this year instead of New Year’s Day as in previous years.
Two: The October flood further complicated the usual process.
“It was very mushy down there. The walking would have been awful. That’s why it put us back so far setting up,” Payne said.
Usually, chamber staff and volunteers have six to seven weeks to put up the sculptures in the park.
“I had less than three weeks to get everything set up for Walkway in that park before opening night and the parade (on Nov. 16),” Payne said.
“Thank God we had the help of ISF. They’re a huge help when it comes to Walkway,” she said.
Next year’s exact layout for Walkway of Lights is unknown. The beach will be built and the chamber will have to see if potential construction of a hotel/conference center also will affect the area that can be used.
Payne said she anticipates having the land by the pavilion where “Santa Land” has been located. Other than that?
“Obviously, it will be a different path. The (basketball and tennis) courts will be gone, so definitely another pathway,” she said.
More than 200 sculptures and 2 million lights make up Walkway of Lights. Those sculptures are in the process of being upgraded to LED lights.
“We’re gradually upgrading things to LED as (lights) go out or as we’re able to because LED is very expensive,” Payne said. “It’s all being changed.”
The flood caused similar concerns over this year’s display and if it would be canceled. Payne said she received numerous phone calls and emails from people worried the holiday display would go away.
“If they have questions or concerns, call us or email us. Come to the source,” she said. “If you want answers, come to us, and we’ll be more than happy to answer anything we can.”