AUSTIN (KXAN) - One of Austin's favorite holiday traditions is coming back this year.
Residents have had to do without the Trail of Lights for the past two years, but the community rallied together to ensure that it was not absent for a third.
Paul Carrozza is the owner of RunTex and has been very involved in making this year's Trail of Lights possible.
"Part of what defined that it was the holidays is you would look over, even if you weren't there, you would see the park lit up and the Trail of Lights," Carrozza said. "To have that go dark…it didn't sit well."
The City of Austin was responsible for putting on the Trail of Lights, but budget concerns during the past two years prevented the City from sponsoring the event.
This left residents searching for a replacement.
"A lot of the smaller towns have their version of it, but it's not the Trail of Lights," Trail of Lights attendee E. Don Brown said.
To bring Austin's favorite holiday tradition back this year, organizers decided to go about it in a different way.
"We have a very active corporate community that supports major Austin events," Carrozza said. "Immediately they were interested in helping out."
The Trail of Lights also teamed up with 25 local non-profits that will benefit from a direct giving campaign.
"If the community comes together and gives, then we can raise quite a bit of money for these non-profits," Carrozza said.
To ensure the event's success in the future, a portion of the money raised this year will go towards next year's Trail.
Organizers managed to do all of this while keeping the event free for the public.
"We don't want to create any barriers to entry," Carrozza said. "This is the one event in town that brings the best of Austin together, but there is no financial barrier to coming."
This year's Trail of Lights will run from Dec. 16-23, from 6 to10 p.m. each night.
More than a mile of lights and more displays than ever ensure that this year's Trail of Lights will be one to remember.
"It's a lot of work but it happens easily because it's everyone's passion," Carrozza said.
"I'm excited for it. I can't wait to do it again," said frequent Trail of Lights attendee Kyle Labay.
Added Brown: "We're going to enjoy seeing it this year. We're going to really enjoy seeing it."
Zilker Park will always have many uses. But the community has come together to ensure that the Trail of Lights will remain one of them for years to come.
"That moment the first night when we flip that thing on, I think it's going to feel like someone just won the Superbowl out here," Carrozza said.
KXAN is proud to be one of the sponsors of this year's Trail of Lights.
If you would like to donate to the non-profits involved, you can do so by visiting AustinTrailofLights.org
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