This year marks the 20th anniversary of 9/11—a day many Americans will never forget.
Here are some ways you can commemorate 9/11 in Austin this year.
9/11 Memorial Ceremony at Buford Fire Tower, 201 West Cesar Chavez Street
7:30 a.m. Saturday
The Austin Firefighters Association will be hosting its annual memorial to honor 9/11, open to the public. At 9:30 a.m., firefighters in complete gear take part in a memorial climb at Pleasant Valley Drill Tower, which will mimic the height of the World Trade Center.
9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, 12700 Hill Country Blvd.
7:46 a.m. Saturday
This annual stair climb is open to the public to support representatives from the Bee Cave Police, Lakeway Police and Lake Travis Fire Rescue to undergo this challenge, climbing an equivalent of the World Trade Center's 110 stories. The event begins at the exact time the first flight crashed into the World Trade Center. The climb will take place at Parking Garage A near Dillard's.
Memorial Tower Climb, 9201 Circuit of the Americas Blvd.
8 a.m. to noon, SaturdayThe Circuit of the Americas will be working in partnership with the nonprofit Samaritan Center to pay respect to the first responders who lost their lives on 9/11. Locals will be invited to climb the stairs of the tower to the observation deck and back down four times, mimicking the 110 floors in the World Trade Center. This event is open to all ages and fitness levels, and registration is $30 online. Participants will receive a poster memorializing the event and t-shirts will be for sale onsite. Funds from the t-shirts and event will go toward supporting the Samaritan Center, which provides mental health services for veterans, first responders, members of the military and their families.
Ride for the Badge Motorcycle Ride & Party, 10917 South Interstate 35
8:30 a.m. Saturday
The Cowboy Harley-Davidson of Austin is hosting a tribute ceremony, motorcycle ride and party to honor this year's 9/11. The event will start at the Cowboy Harley-Davidson building with a ceremony featuring a moment of silence, national anthem, and first responders, military members and veterans recognition. This portion of the event is free to the public. The bike ride will start around 10:45 a.m. and it will end at the Texas Ranger Heritage Center in Fredericksburg. Tickets for the ride cost around $35 for each rider and participants will receive a free breakfast, swag bag, t-shirt, lunch and raffle ticket. The party at the heritage center will last from noon to 5 p.m., which will feature a raffle, vendors, live music and food.
Rotary Club of Northwest Austin 9/11 Tribute, 8600 Balcones Club Dr.
9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Saturday
In honor of 9/11, the Rotary Club of Northwest Austin placed 300 American flags across the street from the main entrance of the Balcones Country Club, one flag each representing around 10 lives lost. The memorial this weekend will recognize those who died on 9/11. Then, Boy Scout Troop 513 will post the colors, pray, recite the pledge of allegiance and sing the national anthem.
Bagpipes and Drums at the Texas Capitol, 1100 Congress Ave.
The Emergency Service Pipes and Drums Association will perform in the rotunda in the Texas State Capitol to honor those who lost their lives on 9/11. This Central Texas band is made up of firefighters, police and paramedics.
Claude van Lingen's 9/11 Memorial: The 20th Anniversary, 5419 Glissman Road
4-10 p.m. Saturday
At Co-Lab Projects, they will be hosting an opening reception to commemorate those who died on 9/11 as well as through the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. The exhibition will feature two large drawings that include the names of the 2,753 victims of the World Trade Center, the 125 victims from the Pentagon attack, the 39 victims from the Pennsylvania crash, the 2,500 victims from the wars in Afghanistan and the 4,000+ victims from the wars in Iraq. These names will be updated regularly, and during the exhibition, visitors will be asked to create a collaborative piece to honor the 9/11 victims.
Memorial Mount Climb, 3800 Mt Bonnell Road
Bear Creek Performance Training typically hosts a climbing event and fundraiser to honor 9/11 but unfortunately, this event has been canceled due to COVID-19. However, they encourage locals to still make the climb on their own, hiking up Mount Bonnell's 102 steps 44 times to mimic the Twin Tower stairs. The public is also welcome to donate to Team Red, White & Blue, the nonprofit that typically benefits from this event and connects veterans to the community through physical and social activity. Mount Bonnell is free to access and has free parking on site.
After months of speculation, a new report says political personality Beto O'Rourke is mulling a run for Texas governor that he will announce later this year.
Sources tell Axios the former congressman is preparing his campaign for the 2022 election, where he will likely vie for the position against incumbent Gov. Greg Abbott. The only other candidate that has announced he will take on Abbott for governor is former Texas GOP Chairman Allen West—no Democrats have announced they are running as of yet.
"No decision has been made," Axios reports David Wysong, O'Rourke's former House chief of staff and a longtime adviser, said. "He has been making and receiving calls with people from all over the state."
A new poll from The Dallas Morning News and University of Texas at Tyler shows O'Rourke is narrowing the gap between himself and Abbott's prospects for governor. In the poll, 37% said they'd vote for O'Rourke over Abbott, while 42% said they'd vote for Abbott.
Abbott has been in the hot seat due to his handling of COVID-19 and the signing of landmark legislation into law, including new abortion and voting rights laws; 54% of poll respondents voted they think the state is headed in the "wrong direction." Still, Texas hasn't had a Democrat as governor since the 90s.
O'Rourke's people-focused approach to the 2018 Senator race, which he lost to Sen. Ted Cruz, gave him a widespread following and many hoped he'd throw his hat into the ring since he said he was considering it earlier this year.
"We hope that he's going to run," Gilberto Hinojosa, the state chair of the Democratic Party, told Axios. "We think he'll be our strongest candidate. We think he can beat Abbott because he's vulnerable."
Austin rapper Jordi Esparza may not have won the 2021 Red Bull Batalla, the world's largest Spanish freestyle rap competition, but for a spirited two rounds, the 22-year old Mexican native looked like he had every right to.
On Saturday evening in Los Angeles, the event itself looked like Cobra Kai meets Star Search with graphics adding a very Batman Beyond aesthetic. Over a dozen rappers hoping to represent the U.S. in the international round of the competition took to the stage with in-your-face jabs at accents, sexual orientation and odors, among other things.
This was Esparza's second rodeo; he had placed third at the 2020 National Finals, automatically securing him a spot this year.
However, things were different this year. He was not nervous about the contest. Unlike in 2020, when he made his Red Bull Batalla debut, the anxiety of the event led him to "feeling so bad."
Affecting a casual calm, the locally-based landscaper said he just felt "so relaxed, so happy" and primarily wanted to "enjoy everything."
Choosing his first-round opponent, Esparza, whose stage name is Jordi, elected to go against LA-based Boss.
Esparza freestyled an attack on his opponent's weight and cholo style of dress.
Boss—bracketing his Latin freestyle with English appeals to the crowd—mocked Jordi's lack of education, made fun of how clean Jordi's shoes looked and suggested that Jordi just came back from a Footlocker.
That first round went to Jordi.
But his next opponent Eckonn would prove to be his undoing.
Eckonn compared Jordi to Hannah Montana, while Jordi soulfully explained that he had learned from the best.
Esparza's verbal dexterity is matched by a rattling rhythm and a game face that is as mawkish as it is mockish. The overall effect is that of an underdog with bite.
Eckonn beat Esparza in that round with the overall championship going to Palm Beach-based rapper Reverse.
However, Esparza was just happy to be there. He recently told Austonia going to the finals again was a dream come true—a pinnacle that he said he won't know how to top.
With his nimble jabs and sneaky prowess, honed from pop culture and the swagger of a young working man hungry to be more, Jordi Esparza is just getting started.