I’ve lived in Austin for about 6 years or so now and there’s a lot of well known activities I haven’t tried before or am just now getting around to. Our beautiful city is popular and it seems like when something is going on, everyone comes to enjoy it. And boy do I mean everyone.
My husband’s not a fan of large crowds, and frankly, I don’t blame him. It can be hard to enjoy something when you’re surrounded by long lines or feel like there’s not enough elbow room to move left or right. Add a toddler to that equation and you’ve just about guaranteed a trip to the asylum after. Something that seems like a fun family outing can quickly turn into a complete nightmare. That’s probably why we’ve never made it to Austin’s famous Trail of Lights display.
I remember years where I’d look at it and think about how fun it would be. It’s kind of like a Christmas right of passage here. But we’d consistently see how overwhelming the crowds would become and it didn’t take much after that to change our minds. That was, until last year. I found out that I would be working on a special night at the Austin Trail of Lights. It would be a more private event and since I had to be there, I figured I’d drag my family along with me. When we got there, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the crowds that so often detoured our visit were minimal. We were able to enjoy the iconic light displays without bumping into people and there weren’t any long lines. In fact, we even walked away with a free Santa photo. Now you may be thinking, big deal, who cares? But trust me, for our family it was. You see since my daughter was born, I’ve tried to get her to sit on Santa’s lap for that traditional photo every family seems to have. I had even settled my expectations to have a crying photo, just as long as she was sitting on Santa’s lap. But for three attempts now, that has never even come close to happening.
The first two times I paid ahead for our Santa photo at a fancy venue. While waiting in line I’d buy a big package, knowing we’d share the photo no matter how it turned out. But both times I had to ask for my money back. You see, not only did my daughter not sit on Santa’s lap, she didn’t go near the man. Each time it would be her turn, she’d see him, turn around and literally take off running in the other direction. There was no bribe to get her to cooperate either. We’d haul her off kicking and screaming utterly defeated. So last year I wasn’t going to be a fool and pay for some frou frou Santa. In fact, I had decided not to take her at all. That was until we were walking along the Trail of Lights and there he was, taking free photos. Free. I couldn’t resist. It was the same story as before, she wouldn’t go near him but this time I had an idea. We had brought her in a little red wagon. I walked over and asked the photographer if they’d quickly snap the photo while I walked in front of Santa with the wagon. They agreed. We had finally gotten our Santa photo! It certainly wasn’t anything to write home about but I had a photo, a free one that I didn’t have to wait in a long line to get. I was so excited!
This year I’m working the event again. I’ll again be bringing my family with me because we had a great time last year. How could we not take advantage of such a great event with minimal crowds? There will be live music by The Robbie Seay Band and Rick Trevino, a marketplace to shop for unique gifts, caroling, a live nativity and of course, Santa. Tickets start at only $15. You can’t beat that! So, my family and I will head Tuesday night, December 5 with higher hopes than last year. We’ve had 365 days to talk my daughter through being around Santa. I’ll dress her up and give it another go. Maybe this time we’ll actually get her face in the photo.
The best part? YOU can join us for this event. Beat the crowds, have some fun with SPIRIT 105.9 and start the season out right. See you there!