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Christmas is only seven days away! While some homes chose to opt out of a holiday display this year, many families and neighborhoods are continuing the tradition this holiday season.
So put on your favorite Christmas tunes, grab some hot chocolate and drive to these holiday displays around town for a festive experience.
Spindler Family Light Show, Georgetown
With over 28,000 LED lights, 17 lighted trees and a computerized light show, the Spindler family is continuing the tradition of lighting up their Georgetown home located at 2441 Candle Ridge Trail. The family is celebrating their eighth annual light show, and families around town have made it a priority to attend. Along with the light show, the Spindler family is collecting unwrapped toys for the Williamson County Brown Santa, which gives presents to kids from low-income families.
Tune in to 88.5 FM while driving through the show for the ultimate experience. The show runs everyday from 6-10 p.m., so grab your friends and family and head over to the Spindler Family Light Show. More information can be found on their Facebook page.
Chinati Court, Cedar Park
Despite the pandemic, the Chinati Court cul-de-sac is lighting up the whole street for a safe, socially distanced light experience. The display of lights is a contribution from different families in the cul-de-sac, offering a walk-through or drive-thru experience. The families ask that you socially distance in groups of six if you chose to walk through the displays. The holiday show will also be taking in donations for Brown Santa. More information on the Chinati Court holiday show can be found on their Facebook page.
Rhodes Family Christmas, Cedar Park
The Rhodes Family Christmas will continue lighting up Cedar Park for the 20th year in a row. The family is encouraging people to drive by and enjoy the Christmas spirit after a challenging year. The holiday display is also a collection site for the Cedar Park Area Food Bank. The display will run until Jan. 1 from 5:45-10 p.m. at 2410 Sharon Dr., so drive by for a shiny, festive experience. More information on the Rhodes Family Christmas can be found on their Facebook page.
Maywald Christmas Lights, 10505 Twilight Vista
Maywald Christmas Lights
Over 200,000 lights will illuminate Twilight Vista this year. The Maywalds are continuing a 12-year tradition with this year's display, which is bigger and better than in years past. The display is completely free, but the family asks guests to make a donation to the Make-A-Wish foundation when entering. The event is a walk-through experience, although the family encourages guests to remain socially distant from each other. The display will run everyday until Jan. 3 from 6-10 p.m. More information on the Maywald Christmas Lights can be found here.
Diagon Alley ATX, Slaughter Lane & Bungalow
Have a very Harry Christmas this year by attending Diagon Alley ATX's Christmas show. The display is known in Austin for its Diagon Alley Halloween makeover, but with 2020 being such a tough year, the family turned Diagon Alley into a winter wonderland for a festive holiday experience.
Inspired by the Yule Ball in the fourth Harry Potter book, the display transports you into the wizarding world. The display is free, but donations are being accepted for Foster Angels of Central Texas, Variety Texas and ZACH Theatre. The holiday display runs every half hour Monday through Friday from 5:30-8:30 p.m. and until 9:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. More information on Diagon Alley ATX can be found on their Facebook page.
This is part of a holiday series counting down to Christmas, so make sure to visit Austonia tomorrow, as we reach six days until Christmas.
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After reaching Stage 4 last week of Austin Public Health's risk-based guidelines, Austin-Travis County is now at the Stage 5 threshold with a seven-day average of 50 hospitalizations and dwindling ICU capacity.
While unenforceable under Gov. Greg's Abbott order against local mandates, vaccinated individuals are asked to choose drive-through and curbside options, outdoor activities, social interactions with limited group sizes, as well as social distance and wearing masks indoors. Partially or unvaccinated individuals are asked to avoid gatherings, travel, dining and shopping, choose curbside and delivery options, as well as wear a mask on essential trips.
Flashing back to early-pandemic times, hospitals are at critical capacity—the 11 county Trauma Service Region of 2.3 million people is fluctuating at 16 staffed beds, according to APH.
In a statement on behalf of Ascension Seton, Baylor Scott & White Health and St. David's Healthcare, a spokesperson said that hospitals are asking residents to "help us and each other" by getting vaccinated and continuing to utilize safety practices to slow the spread of the virus.
According to the statement, a "longstanding" nurse staffing challenge combined with the recent COVID-19 spike is putting "extraordinary pressure" on hospital systems.
Along with the unmitigated spread of the virus in unvaccinated, the more contagious Delta variant is also to blame for the spike in cases. The seven-day moving average of COVID hospitalizations in the Austin area reached the Stage 5 threshold of 50 on Friday, triggering local health officials to ask residents to take action.
Local hospitals have a "surge plan" that includes utilization of "all available patient care space and employees within our hospitals and in other settings" that will go into effect when capacity is hit, according to the statement.
The hospitals are working on sourcing supplemental staff and emphasized that emergency care will still be available but it may involve patient transfers "in order to provide the most appropriate care."
Healthcare systems have hit this threshold previously during the pandemic: the city held an alternate care site at the Austin Convention Center from January to March of this year.
"Our responsibility during this pandemic continues to be balancing our readiness to care for patients with COVID-19, while making sure patients who depend on our hospitals receive needed and timely care," the statement said. "We do not want to see necessary non-COVID care delayed as it was during the early stages of the pandemic."
This story has been updated to after publication to include that Austin has reached the Stage 5 threshold.
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Austin legend Willie Nelson will perform at the Texas Capitol today, his first large performance since the pandemic began, closing out a four-day long march across Central Texas to build support for federal voting protections.
Organized by The Poor People's Campaign, the march began in Georgetown on Wednesday and will end with a 10 a.m. rally at the Capitol featuring appearances from former U.S. Congressman Beto O'Rourke and Rev. Dr. William Barber.
Willie Nelson (with Charlie Sexton & friends) will play a free concert at the Poor People's Campaign march for democracy & justice in Austin this Saturday! https://t.co/zZSA0BpbWA
Sign up to join us and see Willie at 10am Saturday: https://t.co/KrDPIFIvST
— Beto O'Rourke (@BetoORourke) July 29, 2021
The rally calls on Congress to "stop attacks on democracy" by ending the filibuster, pass all provisions of the For the People Act, restore the 1965 Voting Rights Act, raise the federal minimum wage to $15 per hour and pass permanent protections for all 11 million undocumented immigrants.
Nelson denounced election law proposals gaining traction in red states, such as Senate Bill 1 and House Bill 3 in Texas, which 55 House Democrats foiled by fleeing to Washington, D.C., on July 12.
The bills would require additional ID verifications for mail-in ballots, allow partisan poll watchers "free movement" and prohibit elections officials from sending absentee ballot applications to voters who didn't request one.
"Laws making it more difficult for people to vote are unAmerican and are intended to punish people of color, the elderly and disabled," Nelson said. "If you can't win by playing the rules, then it's you and your platform–not everyone else's ability to vote."
The march is in the spirit of the Selma to Montgomery March of 1965, led by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., which protested the blocking of Black Americans' right to vote by Jim Crow laws.