With Christmas only three days away, it's time to look back at Austin's history during the holiday season.
The city has taken the world by storm with its unique and fun personality, and it only gets better during the holidays.
Here is some history on some beloved holiday traditions in Austin.
Trail of Lights
Modern-day celebrations such as the Austin Trail of Lights, set a guideline of traditions for years to follow in Austin. This year, the Trail of Lights is celebrating its 56th anniversary, continuing traditions despite the pandemic.
It was 1965 when Austin locals began the tradition with Christmas displays all around Zilker Park. The Trail of Lights, known as Yule Fest until 1992, was a drive-through experience until 1998. This year's event returns to its roots in taking place as a drive-thru celebration to combat the pandemic.
The Zilker Holiday Tree has been helping Austin shine bright during the holiday season since 1967. After years of development, the Trail of Lights we know and love today has over two million lights in the park, 90 lighted trees and more than 70 other holiday displays and lighted tunnels. The beloved Trail of Lights is known nationally for illuminating Austin and won eighth place in USA Today's Top 10 Public Holiday Lighting Display.
37th Street lights
37th Street lights up the neighborhood in 2006.
Since 1979, 37th Street has been an Austin holiday destination for Christmas lights. What started as one man decorating houses on the street began a holiday tradition unlike any other with houses on 37th Street lighting up to form the brightest block in town.
Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, 37th Street has turned off their lights for the first time and canceled the annual event. Residents are hopeful that 37th Street will illuminate the city again next year.
You can check out other holiday light displays going on around Austin here.
A 1906 photo of a Bazaar on Congress Avenue.
(Austin History Center, Austin Public Library)
Bazaars have become another holiday tradition in Austin since before the 1970s. The Armadillo Christmas Bazaar began in 1975; the event gave access to local artists and musicians to showcase their work during the holiday season.
Since the arrival of bazaars, Austin has seen numerous others such as The Bazaar, Austin Bazaar, The Arabic Bazaar and the other holiday favorite: Blue Genie Art Bazaar, which is open and operating until Dec. 24.
Unfortunately, the pandemic also impacted the opening of the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, but you can still shop online for gifts by local artists.
Austin has been following tradition for years during the holiday season. Although due to the pandemic some events have been canceled, Austin is still feeling the Christmas spirit.
This is part of a holiday series counting down to Christmas so make sure to visit Austonia tomorrow, as we reach two days until Christmas.
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Republic Square Park has turned into a Ford-themed fiesta for its Built to Connect pop-up experience, complete with test drives, off-roading and an inside look at the Tesla-rivaling electric vehicles that the motor vehicle company is planning to integrate over the next decade.
The outdoor driving event is free, open to the public and will stay in the park from now until Oct. 24, offering rides on Bronco Mountain, a 0-40 mph zip in the 2022 all-electric Ford F-150 Lightning and a chance to win an original Ford Bronco.
The event kicked off with a panel of speakers, including Austin Director of Transportation Rob Spillar, Ford General Manager Darren Palmer and engineering specialists discussing Ford's goals to make it so that 50% of the vehicles on the road are electric by 2030.
As an eco-conscious city, Spillar said that around 4,000 vehicles, or 22% of the Texas electric vehicle market, as well as over 15,000 plugins lie in Austin, meaning driving electric just got accessible.
"Austin, as you know, is a fast-growing modern city that is committed to protecting the long term health and viability of our communities and strategies that reduce greenhouse gases, mitigate the effects of climate change and improve the drone quality of life here in Central Texas for all of our residents," Spillar said.
And Ford's electric vehicles are putting up some steep competition for newly-Austin-based company Tesla. The new electric Mustang Mach-E and F-150 Lighting offer amenities that used to be exclusive to Musk's brand, such as the BlueCruise self-driving network. The cars also boast a 300-mile range on a single charge, assisted reverse technology and access to the biggest charging network outside of the home.
Plus, Ford's got affordability on its side. The F-150 Lightning starts at $39,974 and the Mustang Mach-E starts at $42,895, while the cheapest Tesla model, the Model 3, starts at $41,990 and averages 262 miles on a single charge.
Speaking of price, the numbers on the electric vehicles may look like a little more than you'd like to pay for your transport, but Palmer promises it will pay off. In addition to a $7,500 tax credit you can earn for your sustainability, you'll never have to buy a pricey tank of gas again.
"Personally, I have not found one customer ever, who would go back to gas so that says something," Palmer said. "I realized, at $51,000, that car outruns every childhood hero car I ever had."
Texas buyers: take note. The Ford Lightning can power your house for three to 10 days, just in case the statewide power grid fails. You can take it glamping with you, so you don't have to leave the comfort of modern life behind, and in a pinch, Palmer said he's even seen a wedding party powered by the truck.
Ford is investing $30 billion into the U.S. market to meet demand by 2025 and the new electric truck already has over 150,000 reservations.
"I think they're going to take off much faster than you expect—they're going to be extremely, extremely popular next year," Palmer said. "With the incentives that are available today, this is starting to become more mainstream and viable for more and more families. We couldn't have done that before, we didn't have the technology, or the technology at that price."
The event is ongoing through next weekend from 12-9 p.m. Monday-Friday and 9 a.m.- 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
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The Austin Police Department is searching for a man who is believed to be behind a series of robberies that is "sexual in nature and is escalating."
Three robbery cases that took place in North Austin within a 30-day period are being investigated by police, who report the victims all had similar descriptions for suspects in the case. The suspect is described as a 20-25-year-old Spanish-speaking Hispanic man, approximately 5'3, thin build, recently shaved with black hair. Police say he is known to typically wear athletic clothing and used a knife on each of the victims.
Here's a breakdown of the cases:
1. At 7:56 a.m. on Sept. 22 at the 1600 block of Rutland Drive, a woman was walking alone and returning from her child's school when a suspect walking by inappropriately touched her. The suspect then grabbed her by the arm, threatened her with a knife and demanded "her property."
2. At 8:10 a.m. on Oct. 11 at 1700 block of Colony Creek Drive, a woman was walking to her child's school when a man approached her with a knife and then demanded her personal items. The suspect then said he would return the items in return for sex.
3. At 11:03 a.m. on Oct. 13 at the 9300 block of Northgate Boulevard, a woman was with her child in the laundry room of an apartment complex when a man walked in performing a sexual act. The suspect demanded personal items from the victim, threatening to hurt the victim and take her child.
Police cautioned the public to walk without earbuds, stay alert and report suspicious activity to the police.
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