Christmas is now only two days away! Due to the pandemic, many Austin residents are facing a holiday season unlike any other. Although some annual events are still in place, there are plenty of other ways to form new traditions for this year's Christmas.
Here are six fun things you can do while social distancing to feel the Christmas cheer:
Play virtual board games
Traveling is already a challenge during the holidays, but with the pandemic it's even tougher. If you and your family are choosing to stay close to home this year, consider playing virtual board games with out of state family members for a fun night in. This favorite holiday tradition might look different this year, but playing online games can be fun for the whole family and lets you avoid exposure to COVID-19. Trivia Royale, Song Quiz, Tabletopia and House Party are new multiplayer online games that can help you stay connected with friends and family. Even if you're a fan of classic games, you can play Scrabble, Monopoly or Game of Life online. Try playing a virtual board game this holiday season to form a new tradition for all family members, near or far.
Although holiday game nights can be fun and harmless, some families get a little more competitive. As an incentive, consider adding donations to a virtual fundraiser to your virtual game night as a way to stay connected with loved ones and give back to the community. Adding a sprinkle of competitive spirit to your holiday game night can turn into a tradition for years to come. When you start playing a virtual game, set rules on who will have to contribute to an online fundraiser. Whether you choose if the winner or loser has to donate to a fundraiser, set fun and creative rules by adding game privileges to those who donate.
Since the pandemic hit, many Austinites have tried to master the art of cooking and baking. If you haven't become the baker of your dreams yet, the holiday season is the perfect time to try out new recipes and spice up your holiday desserts. Try making a unique holiday-themed dessert recipe this year to have your home smelling like cookies and feeling like Christmas. This activity is perfect for any family with younger kids or friends who are cooped up together during the holidays to add a new tradition to your holiday season.
Cruise through light shows
Annual beloved Austin events such as the Austin Trail of Lights and Mozart's Light Show are still happening this year, despite the pandemic and with added safety measures. Although these events are perfectly enjoyable while social distancing, try switching up holiday traditions by grabbing some hot chocolate and looking at lights from your car, for free. Families with children can enjoy this activity all holiday season and add a sparkle of Christmas cheer to anyone seeing lights around town. You can choose to visit a holiday event around town or drive through a decked out neighborhood to see streets filled with lights.
Binge watch your favorite Christmas movies
Holiday cheer can be spread in many ways, but nothing beats cozying up on the couch and watching your favorite Christmas movies with your loved ones. This year's Christmas already looks different than most, so no judgement if you want to spend the day eating your holiday-themed desserts and watching one Christmas movie after the other.
Adding a low-cost and family-fun activity to your holiday season might be just what you need after facing the challenges of 2020. Crafting is a fun activity to do with family and friends and can be an easy way to stay connected with family members. You can place a video call with family members from out of state and craft together, for a fun holiday experience with all your loved ones. If your family is competitive, try having a competition on the best craft in the house, or share the results on social media so your loved ones can choose a favorite. Check out these DIYs for a crafty holiday season.
This is part of a holiday series counting down to Christmas so make sure to visit Austonia tomorrow, as we reach one day 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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