The Zilker Holiday Tree will adorn the park yet again this holiday season near the site of this year's first drive-thru Trail of Lights.
The tree will be installed on Oct. 23 but won't be lit until Nov. 29 at 6 p.m., during the first-ever virtual lighting ceremony for its 54th anniversary. Additionally, Zilker Park closures will begin Oct. 30 to make room for the 2020 Trail of Lights holiday event.
While the Trail of Lights will be held in a drive-thru capacity, the City of Austin has yet to announce whether or not the Zilker Holiday Tree will be available for in-person viewing. A decision should be decided in the coming months after assessing the state of the pandemic.
The installation of the tree will transform the Zilker moontower, one of 15 remaining moontowers in Austin, with 39 strings of lights. The tree is the largest man-made tree on display and stands 155 feet tall, encompassing the moontower. This year, the tree will use all LED bulbs, which last longer and consume less electricity.
The Zilker Holiday Tree will be on display from Nov. 29 through Jan. 1 from 6 p.m. to midnight every night. The lighting ceremony will be streamed on ATXN Channel 6 and on social media channels of Austin Parks and Recreation Department, City of Austin and Austin Energy.
And while the Trail of Lights opens Nov. 28 through Jan. 3 as a drive thru, the impact to Zilker Park is similar to past years.
Starting Oct. 30, the city will close Lou Neff Road—the road that circles the park grounds where the Trail of Lights and Austin City Limits Music Festival occurs. The 45-acre off-leash Great Lawn will remain open, however, through Nov. 8, according to a map provided by the city. Alternative parking sites have been identified for those still hoping to use the green space.
Starting Nov. 9, roughly half of the Great Lawn portion of Zilker Park will close to allow Trail of Lights event organizers to start setting up. Additionally, Rollingwood Drive just west of MoPac will restrict traffic to only allow neighborhood residents each evening from 5-11 p.m. Stratford Drive near Lady Bird Lake will also close to all through traffic each night starting Nov. 9.
The map outlines the complicated routes motorists must take to access the event, showing option for both northbound and southbound motorists on MoPac. Essentially, attendees are directed down Lake Austin Boulevard and past Red Bud Isle before circling back toward Zilker Park.
The partial park closure runs through Jan. 10, allowing event organizers almost a week to deconstruct the Winter Wonderland, including all 2 million lights, 90 lighted holiday trees and 70-plus other holiday displays. That means Zilker Park will have limited access for little more than two months.
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More vaccines could be headed to Austin as FDA greenlights single-shot Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine
This story was updated Monday to include that the vaccine received official approval by the FDA this weekend.
The Food and Drug Administration approved the single-shot Johnson & Johnson vaccine that is to be shipped out this month, increasing the number of vaccines available.
In a virtual meeting on Friday, the FDA Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee unanimously approved of the U.S.'s third available COVID-19 vaccine, which was officially approved on Saturday. Federal officials say 4 million doses will go out nationally this week, with an expected 20 million doses to be available by the end of March. The Texas Department of State Health Services has said it expects to receive about 200,000 doses, but has not released a timeline of when doses will be shipped and available.
UPDATE: The Lower Colorado River Authority has found potentially fatal bacteria in the Hudson Bend of Lake Travis, the same area where a dog was found dead after swimming in its waters.