AUSTIN (KXAN) - Without the trail of lights, many people felt the loss of a tradition this past holiday season.
What will happen next year is still up in the air, but what we do know is both the public and private sectors are searching for solutions.
As crews took down tents around the Zilker Park Tree Monday Carrie Appell took her two boys to the park's Great Lawn to ride bikes.
She says her kids sure did miss the Trail of Lights this past holiday season.
"We want it back up, but we know it's a lot of money," said Appell.
The $325,000 for the Trail was cut from the city's budget and allocated to park staffing and maintenance.
The city says that allowed people like the Appell family to use Zilker Park during a time when it would normally be closed.
But local business owner Curtis Reddehase says that's not enough of a trade off and wants the Trail of Lights to continue.
"There's too much money being spent on too many controversial projects not to have something so big and so fun and brings so many people together. I think there's something else to it," said Reddehase.
Reddehase, who owns Sky Realty, has started a website and Facebook page called keepthetraillit.com.
He along with a couple dozen other business owners have pledged money to support the Trail of Lights in the future.
Reddehase says he'll contribute one percent on his own, or $3,250 bucks.
"We're missing out on memories and traditions," said Reddehase.
The city says it is working on creative solutions and plans to send out a request for proposal to find someone to take over the Trail of Lights, like they did unsuccessfully in 2009 and 2010.
"Really we're looking at exhausting all viable methods of finding is there someone out there who can put together to fund , manage and run an event," said Jason Maurer, Parks and Recreation Special Events Manager.
The city says potential bidders must consider a lot more than one might think--including staffing, overnight security, public safety, traffic control, shuttling and electricity.
"A great component of a successful bidder is finding out how perhaps a team or consortium group could chip in and form a group and run and manage the trail of lights," said Maurer.
Appell says she'd even pay a small admission so her kids could experience an Austin-style Christmas.
"You try to look for other places that have it and nothing compares to what it was," said Appell.
The city could send out the RFP as early as the spring. Meanwhile, Reddehase plans to keep getting support on his website and work with the city on a solution.
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