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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.
More on the Trail of Lights:
- Austin Trail of Lights plans for drive-thru event due to COVID - austonia ›
- scenic Austin nature and skyline from sunrise to sunset - austonia ›
- Dia de los Muertos: Austinites put up altars despite COVID - austonia ›
- Peppermint Parkway drive-thru at COTA tickets now on sale - austonia ›
- How risky are your holiday plans this year? - austonia ›
- 5 ways to have a more eco-friendly holiday this year - austonia ›
- Brief history: how Austin's moontowers came to be - austonia ›
Matthew McConaughey is reportedly weighing a run for Texas governor in 2022.
The Austin resident and Oscar winner has been "quietly making calls to influential people in Texas political circles, including a deep-pocketed moderate Republican and energy CEO" as he decides whether to run, according to Politico.
McConaughey said a gubernatorial run is "a true consideration" while on a March episode of Houston's "The Balanced Voice" podcast.
Although most political strategists doubt McConaughey's commitment and viability as a candidate, some are still intrigued by the possibility.
"I find it improbable, but it's not out of the question," Karl Rove, a top Republican strategist with a long history in Austin, told the political news site. He added that the big question is whether McConaughey would run as a Republican, a Democrat or an independent.
Brendan Steinhauser, an Austin-based GOP strategist, told Politico he's surprised McConaughey isn't being taken more seriously. "Celebrity in this country counts for a lot," he said. "It's not like some C-list actor no one likes. He has an appeal."
Texas Gov. Greg Abbott plans to run for a third term and remains popular among Republican voters, 77% of whom approve of his performance as of April, according to the Texas Politics Project.
Some strategists believe an independent McConaughey run would benefit Abbott. But a recent poll from The Dallas Morning News and the University of Texas at Tyler found that McConaughey would beat Abbott, 45% to 33%, with 22% opting for someone else.
Mimi Swartz, an executive editor at Texas Monthly, mulled a McConaughey run in a recent opinion essay from the New York Times. "Texas may not be ready for a philosopher king as a candidate, much less governor," she wrote. "May the best man win, man."
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- Texans vote McConaughey in latest governor poll - austonia ›
Some JuiceLand production facility workers and storefront employees are organizing to demand wage increases, better working conditions (including air conditioning in the warehouse) and pay transparency, among other asks. They are also calling on staff to strike and customers to boycott the Austin-based company until their demands are met.
JuiceLand responded on Saturday. "We are listening," the company wrote on their Instagram story. "JuiceLand crew now makes guaranteed $15 an hour or more companywide."
JuiceLand, which was founded in 2001 by Matt Shook and now has 35 locations in Austin, Houston and Dallas, acknowledged the rising cost of living across Texas and the added stress of the pandemic in an email to employees on Saturday, part of which @juicelandworkersrights shared on social media. "There's no denying that times are tough and financial security means more now than ever," the company wrote.
Organized JuiceLand workers rejected this proposal, according to a recent post on the @juicelandworkersrights Instagram account, and reiterated their demands.
"Cost of living in Austin is rising exponentially and will only continue to get worse with the tech boom," the post read. "$15 is barely a sustainable living."