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Itching to enjoy fall festivities like you used to? This fall may not look the same as years prior but rest assured, Austin is still finding ways to make this autumn a fun one. From family fun to spooky outings to drive-thru Halloween events, here are six ways to make your fall season count.
For lovers of all things autumn:
Sweet Berry Farms Texas Maze and pumpkin patch
Texas-shaped mazes, pumpkin patches and hayrides, oh my! Sweet Berry Farm, located on 1801 FM 1980 in Marble Falls, has opened up its 60 acres of fields yet again this year for fall flower and pumpkin picking, scarecrow stuffing, hayrides and all different kinds of mazes. The farm will be open now through Nov. 8 and requires customers to wear face masks at all times.
Enjoy the (brief) fall weather by heading outdoors
Lady Bird Lake
Make the most of the forgiving Texas fall weather by getting outside. Zilker Park and Botanical Gardens, Emma Long Metropolitan Park, Lady Bird Lake, Barton Creek Greenbelt, Deep Eddy and Barton Springs pools are all open, including others. Take this time to hold a picnic, get out on the water or even take a brief walk outside and enjoy the weather—it will be over before you know it.
House of Torment
Affectionately dubbed the "scariest haunted house in America," the House of Torment, located at 2632 Ridgepoint Dr., is open for business as usual this spooky season. According to its website, capacity will be "extremely limited" for COVID-19 purposes, which will, in turn, reduce wait times so you can get the pants scared off you faster. As for the experience, the only thing that changed is that you and the actors will all be wearing masks and groups will have more distance between them. Tickets start at $22.99.
Attend an Austin Ghost Tour
If ghosts and ghouls are more your speed, reserve a walking tour through downtown Austin with Austin Ghost Tours. The walking tours take patrons all over town, to the Texas Capitol, Austin's first hospital, the Driskill Hotel, the old Travis County jailhouse and more, telling historically-researched ghost stories all the while. Austin Ghost Tours also offers late-night haunted tours through Pioneer Farms every Thursday in October. Tickets start at $22.
For the kids:
Boo at the Zoo
Get your Halloween garb on and head to the Austin Zoo for its annual Boo at the Zoo. The evening will include a haunted train ride, haunted mansion, shows and a chance to see the zoo after hours, decked out and illuminated during October. The zoo is not normally open at night, so this is a great time to see nocturnal animals in action. Tickets start at $17.50 and are limited; purchase by calling 512-288-14990.
Street of Treats
Many families have electing not to trick or treat this year but there are still ways to get your candy fix and stay safe. For the Hill Country Galleria's Street of Treats Halloween Drive-Thru, which takes place on Oct. 24 from 10 a.m.-2p.m., you never have to leave the safety of your vehicle; oh, and don't forget the family dog. During the event, families will drive through the outdoor mall and have bags of candy passed to them through open windows. Plus, the event is completely free.While this fall may not include the typical traditions, there are many other ways to celebrate and even create new traditions. Here's more ways to stay safe for the holidays:
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Tesla CEO Elon Musk announced a record-setting second quarter during an earnings call broadcasted from the Giga Texas construction site in Southeast Travis County on Monday.
The electric carmaker reported more than $1 billion in quarterly net income and the production of more than 200,000 vehicles for the first time despite challenges such as a global semiconductor shortage.
"It … seems that public sentiment towards electric vehicles is at an inflection point, and at this point, I think, almost everyone agrees electric vehicles are the only way forward," Musk said.
Exterior shots taken just a while ago of Giga Texas (while @elonmusk is reportedly at the Gigafactory!) during today's earnings call!
Hope @peterdog15 got to catch the technoking in his video! #fastestinhistory #Tesla pic.twitter.com/WqeDlb5wU3
— Austin Tesla Club (@AustinTeslaClub) July 26, 2021
Despite rising consumer demand and adequate factory capacity, Tesla faces what Musk described as a "quite serious" global semiconductor shortage, which will determine the company's growth rate for the rest of the year.
With increased revenue and production, Tesla is investing in new factories, Chief Financial Officer Zachary Kirkhorn said. These include Giga Texas, the $1.1 billion manufacturing plant that broke ground last summer and is slated to open later this year.
The Giga Texas factory in Southeast Travis County has rapidly increased in size since ground broke last August. (Tesla)
Musk commended the construction team for "incredible progress," transforming what was basically a vacant site into "a mostly complete large factory a year later."
I was at Giga Texas yesterday. Team is making excellent progress. Building will be almost a mile long when complete.
— Elon Musk (@elonmusk) July 25, 2021
Giga Texas will produce the highly anticipated Cybertruck, along with other models, but Musk said scaling its production will be difficult, especially given the supply chain delays caused by the pandemic. "It's going to move as fast as the slowest of its up to 10,000 unique parts," he said.
In other news, Musk said Monday's earnings call would likely be his last regular appearance, only jumping on future quarterly calls when big announcements warrant it.
Tesla Solar recently made news when it announced plans to build the nation's most sustainable residential community in Southeast Austin earlier this month. The newly built homes will feature Tesla solar roof tiles and Powerwall battery storage as well as electric vehicle charging stations.
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The city of Austin released a shortlist of seven candidates for the police chief position left vacant when Brian Manley retired in March.
City Manager Spencer Cronk hopes to announce an appointment by the end of August, which will require City Council approval.
The finalists, chosen from a field of 46 applicants, include:
- APD Interim Chief Joseph Chacon, who previously served as an assistant chief in the department for almost five years
- Anne Kirkpatrick, former police chief in Oakland, California, who was fired last year after a federal monitor criticized her handling of a fatal 2018 police shooting of a homeless man
- Dallas Police Department Assistant Chief Avery L. Moore, who is a 30-year veteran of the department
- Atlanta Police Department Deputy Chief Celeste Murphy, who manages the department's community services division
- Dekalb County Police Chief Mirtha V. Ramos, who previously served as division chief in the Miami-Dade Police Department
- Wichita Police Department Chief Gordon Ramsay, who is a former president of the Minnesota Police Chief's Association as well as one of the first police chiefs of a major U.S. City to call George Floyd's death a murder, as reported by the Wichita Eagle
- Los Angeles Police Department Deputy Chief Emada E. Tingirides, who is also commanding officer of the department's newly formed Community Safety Partnership Bureau, which serves L.A.'s underserved communities
City staff will interview the finalists in the coming weeks, with several community input opportunities to come, according to a Monday press release.
The city conducted a public survey in March and hosted community input meetings in April to learn more about what residents are looking for in their next police chief, which helped shape the selection criteria for the position.
"They want to see the Chief be reform-minded and transparent and have a track record of fostering community involvement and accountability," Cronk said in the release. "The candidates selected show these characteristics in various ways."
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Days after Austin began once again recommending masks in public spaces, Austin ISD announced Monday that kindergarten through sixth-grade classes will have virtual options this fall.
The district will discuss the move in a special board meeting Monday evening starting at 5 p.m., while full details will be released Friday.
Teachers will not have to fret about the new option—no educators will have to juggle both virtual and in-person learning. Instead, certain teachers will specialize in virtual education, according to a press release.
The news comes after a recent spike in COVID cases in Travis County and across the nation. Children typically suffer fewer symptoms of COVID when contracted, but they are now catching the virus more often than their older counterparts without a vaccine available to them and as the more contagious Delta variant is quickly being spread.
While local health officials are recommending everyone wear masks, public school districts are unable to mandate masks due to an executive order issued by Gov. Greg Abbott in May.
Parents have expressed concern about classrooms with masks unenforceable and children under the age of 12 ineligible for a vaccine. Some have even said they would look for alternative schooling if AISD did not offer a virtual option for students.
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