AUSTIN, Texas — The 57th Annual Trail of Lights kicked off the 2021 holiday season for a second consecutive year in the shadow of the ongoing plandemic by providing social distancing via a drive-thru event. Again, we’ll be idling, not walking, past its lighted displays and other seasonal decorations devoid of that nostalgic, small-town Austin feel.
Now that the equity commission has stepped in to manage Austin’s beloved Trail Of Lights, vehicle passes have ballooned to a whopping $95 (+ $11.45 fee), which included early entry, a box of festive cookies, and bottled water. Talk about the Grinch Who Stole Christmas, look no further than Austin’s push for equity grifting as the culprit that has dragged this Christmas holiday tradition down for all Austinites.
What happened to the Trail of Lights being a FREE event? Gone are the days that previously, the event had offered the community a few free days before charging for admission. It’s not even that good. There are better free light displays in other cities. McAdenville, North Carolina does a free Christmas lights display from Thanksgiving-Christmas every year. Where is the Christmas Holiday cheer experienced in Hallmark movies? The 32nd Street lights near West Campus really defined old Austin. Austin is a very wealthy city, and they continue to put an end to all the previously enjoyable, family-friendly events. The City of Austin, under the leadership of Mayor Steve Adler, has repeatedly shut down any event or included a large price tag that would be considered giving back to the community as a free event, which should include all Austinites.
Multiple companies sponsored the Trail of Lights. The cost to set up, gas, permitting, and “groundwork” they have to do before and after has gone up. They aren’t getting the big sponsorship money of previous years (nor are they even trying) and have to have “seed money” for next year. Around 2008, they started sponsoring the Trail of Lights after the city stopped funding it. This is reminiscent of the Veteran’s Day Parade – a longtime Austin tradition that was similarly defunded in true City of Austin fashion.
Hey austin! How about you cut funding for something lame and bring back my Trail of Lights. Thnx
— Matt N (@eFamousMatt) November 29, 2011
Another Austin tradition gone. First the Trail of Lights, now First Night in Austin canceled over lack of funding. http://bit.ly/d3rv0G
— FOX 7 Austin (@fox7austin) September 30, 2010
BREAKING: Austin’s Trail of Lights has been CANCELED due to a lack of funding. More info to come soon on KVUE.com.
— KVUE News (@KVUE) November 2, 2011
#ATXCouncil is spreading holiday cheer! Item 32 is approved to accept funding and approve fee waivers for the Austin Trail of Lights
— City of Austin (@austintexasgov) December 17, 2015
What does a University of Texas at Austin globe corporate ad light display have to do with the Christmas Holiday Season? Austin’s live music scene is non-existent, for those out-of-towners who believe it is the opposite. Absolute disaster to display lit up guitars with Texas Longhorn logos. Is this the best they can do to garner interest in a most uninteresting, non-creative, event?
Calling all Longhorn Fans! Let’s turn the Trail burnt orange for UT Night on Sunday, December 12th! Show your UT spirit by decorating your car with longhorns and burnt orange lights! @utaustin pic.twitter.com/XWHERGjGXd
— Austin Trail of Lights (@ATXLights) December 5, 2021
A hometown event turned into corporate trash with a Board of Directors at the helm of what has become the Austin Trail of Lights Foundation. All the construction of buildings downtown are in disarray. The city center has no life. It’s this weird, soulless thing that is striving to be like San Francisco in the 80s. Less than a decade ago, it was safe to go downtown and bar hop, walk on the hike and bike trail, shop at the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, lots of local, small businesses on the East side with restaurants that were mom- and pop-owned. It was great, . . . and then the developers showed up. Austin has transitioned from Keep Austin Weird to Keep Austin Woke.
The Austin Trail of Lights has been produced by Forefront since 2012. They claim to ensure “the experience is accessible to the full Austin community.”
Forefront partners include the Downtown Austin Alliance, Maudie’s Tex-Mex, Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, Marriott Bonvoy, Amazon, University of Texas at Austin, Thirteenth Floor Entertainment Group, Tito’s Vodka, Vista Equity Partners, St. David’s HealthCare, Keller Williams, H-E-B, and SolarWinds.
Due to COVID-19 prevention policies, no open-air vehicles may enter the Trail of Lights. This includes bicycles, scooters, pedicabs, motorcycles, golf carts, & etc.
As this is an imperfect solution, a point can be made that not everyone owns a vehicle, and not everyone can afford the outlandish vehicle pass prices.
Once a beloved Austin tradition, the Trail of Lights has now become an unaffordable, corporate sellout afterthought for most Austin families. The majority of Austinites are unified in their disapproval of the high cost and mediocre offerings of the Trail of Lights 2021.
The trail of lights is $80? What is family friendly about that?! I’ll be going to my beach vacation spot trail of lights this year now
— Julie nowlin (@JulieNowlin) December 6, 2021
Yeah I remember driving through it as a kid also, bummer
— Julie nowlin (@JulieNowlin) December 6, 2021
— Austin Trail of Lights (@ATXLights) October 7, 2021
Part of the problem has to do with the constant involvement of these woke non-profit grifters who claim to help people while only enriching themselves. The standard use of disadvantaged people to push for higher wages for non-profit board executives has never been more on display than with Robert F. Smiths’ new involvement with this treasured, original Austin event.
In order to level the playing field, non-profit organizations are now grifting off the Austin Trail of Lights by raising money for free tickets for their STARS at the Trail Program. Proving that nothing is sacred, Robert F. Smith is profiting off of selling the equity scheme of caring compassion for the less fortunate.
Austin Trail of Lights has been gracing the Austin, TX, area since its conception in 1965. Bringing in over 400,000 people annually, the holiday-themed attraction is the largest community event of the season and the second largest of the year. Over two million lights and sixty displays are used every year to usher in the holiday spirit, in combination with food trucks and musical acts. In order to make the event possible, the Trail of Lights Foundation, which runs the event, accepts many private donations and the help of sponsors. Austin-based investment firm Vista Equity Partners, and their Founder, Chairman and CEO Robert F. Smith, have teamed up with Austin Trail of Lights to sponsor programs and displays of the event, including the STARS at the Trail Program, Santa’s Workshop and Candy Land.
Since not all residents of the Austin, TX, area are fortunate enough to be able to attend this light extravaganza under normal circumstances, the Trail of Lights Foundation, joined by Vista Equity Partners, other sponsors, and individual donors, created STARS at the Trail Program. Since its founding in 2013, the STARS at the Trail Program, with Vista’s sponsorship, has been able to help dozens of nonprofit organizations, and tens of thousands of individuals, who would otherwise not be able to experience the trail. While the program was initially limited, in 2016, the STARS at the Trail was expanded to three nights and now allows more than 20 nonprofit organizations to participate each year. According to Leah Davies, Trail of Lights Foundation member and former president, “We identify that as an event by and for Austin, [we] need to do a very good consistent job of making [Trail of Lights] accessible for all Austinites. We thought the best way to do that would be to feature and highlight and give special access to those nonprofit groups.”
Out of the numerous nonprofit organizations above, The SAFE Alliance has Diane Land as the Treasurer on their Board of Directors! Numerous spouses (often of different last names) tied to city government officials are members of nonprofit organization boards of directors, ensuring that the PPE money (federal COVID-19 money the city is getting) everyone is after like Hungry, Hungry Hippos, is funneled through these nonprofit organizations and into the pockets of city officials’ friends.
According to WalletHub’s recent article, 2021’s Most Caring Cities in America, not a single Texas city cracks the top 20. More than likely, Austin didn’t make the list because:
1. Democrat Socialists give nothing to charities, and
2. Homeless there are not properly “sheltered.”
Job lobbed free tickets to Austin Trail of Lights 🎅🏾 https://t.co/IiJxIy7Haa
— Youngster Joey 🎅🏾 (@African_Kingg) November 25, 2021
Por segundo año consecutivo, el famoso atractivo navideño Austin Trail of Lights será un evento de autoservicio.https://t.co/AiyXM46nvW
— Univision 62 (@Univision62) November 24, 2021
This scenario is truly heart-breaking for what has become of this town. Citizens of Austin must make it a priority to preserve what we still have left of Austin’s unique charm.
Anyone who has driven the new, less improved Trail of Lights knows it’s not worth it.
Prices *start* at over $40, and anything less than $70 means you’re spending an hour in line… idling your car.
It’s embarrassing, but par for the course for Austin at this point. https://t.co/A1qBuahbc1
— Tyler Norris (@TXTylerNorris) December 15, 2021