Walkway of Lights celebrates 30 years

In recognition of Walkway of Lights' 30th anniversary, visitors can purchase a commemorative glass with proceeds going to the annual Christmas lights display. The Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce is also offering a commemorative Christmas tree decoration. Staff photo by Daniel Clifton

A labor of love is how Marble Falls/Lake LBJ Chamber of Commerce events coordinator Mindy Miller describes Walkway of Lights, which is celebrating its 30th anniversary this year.

“It’s an honor to be part of this,” she said while helping put the finishing touches on the 2020 Christmas lights display. “We’ve been working on this since September, and I want to make it the best we can with all that’s going on.”

Walkway of Lights officially opens Friday, Nov. 20, and continues 6-10 p.m. daily through Jan. 2, 2021, at Lakeside Park, 307 Buena Vista Drive in Marble Falls. Admission is free, but donations help keep the event thriving and growing.

The light-up parade starts at 6 p.m. Friday and travels down Main Street. This year’s opening event won’t have an official flipping of the switch to keep people from gathering in a large mass at the entrance.

Terry Evans, who’s been volunteering for more than two decades at Walkway of Lights, agreed with Miller’s labor of love declaration. He recalled early on during the annual event of how one of the initial organizers, Pat Burton, brought in a bunch of persimmon trees to set up.

“We put lights on every one of them,” Evans said, shaking his head a bit. It’s not an easy task putting lights on persimmon trees. 

Now Walkway displays artificial trees among the lighted sculptures, all draped in more than 2 million lights. 

“It’s a lot of work that goes into this, but it’s worth it,” Evans added. “I love seeing the kids, seeing their reaction.”

The idea for Walkway of Lights began in the mind of Horseshoe Bay resident Ron Mitchell a little more than three decades ago. An Austin native, Mitchell loved how the downtown buildings reflected in the water of what was then called Town Lake (now Lady Bird Lake). Mitchell also enjoyed Austin’s annual Trail of Lights display but wished it was lakeside so the lights could set the water aglow. 

After moving to Horseshoe Bay, Mitchell decided the north shore of Lake Marble Falls would be a wonderful place for a winter wonderland. He teamed up with Pat Burton and later a larger group of volunteers to lay the groundwork for the first Walkway of Lights in 1990. 

Walkway of Lights celebrates 30 years
A group of people came together 30 years ago to hold the first Walkway of Lights (pictured), which has grown into a popular Christmas tradition in Marble Falls. The 2020 Walkway of Lights opens at 6 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20. Photo courtesy of Ron Mitchell

“When it started it was a community deal,” Terry Evans said. “The chamber did it for all the people in the community.”

Walkway of Lights has changed over the years, adding the parade in 2006 and an ice skating rink and new layout this year. 

Amid the pandemic, chamber officials felt the display was more important than ever.

“We wanted something to still give people a chance to get out and celebrate the season,” Miller said. “Maybe have some sense of normalcy.”

The chamber is encouraging people to follow COVID-19 health and safety protocols and asking groups to keep their distance from others. Hand sanitizer will be available throughout the display.

The city of Marble Falls and Burnet County are sponsoring the ice rink, which will be located by the display. Tickets are $12 for ages 13 and older and $10 for ages 12 and younger. The rink will operate from 5-10 p.m. daily Friday, Nov. 20, through Jan. 2. Tickets are available online. Other city holiday events can be found online. Volunteers for Walkway of Lights are always needed, Miller said.

The chamber is selling a commemorative ornament for $5 and a drinking glass for $10, both of which are available at its office, 916 Second St., and the Visitor Center, 100 Avenue G. 

Bear King Brewing Company, 207 Avenue G, and Double Horn Brewing Company, 208 Avenue H, have made a special beer commemorating the 30th anniversary of Walkway Lights. You can also purchase the commemorative glasses at the two businesses. 

Donations and proceeds from commemorative ornament and glass sales support Walkway of Lights.

For more information, contact the chamber at 830-693-2815. 

And for other Highland Lakes holiday happenings, visit the Highland Lakes Christmas Lights Guide at 101HighlandLakes.com/Christmas-Lights.

daniel@thepicayune.com

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