It's become an annual tradition for our family to check out the Zilker Park Trail of Lights and the fantastic neighborhood displays. Well, this year, due to budgetary constraints, there was no Trail of Lights, which was a bummer, though they did still have the Zilker Park Tree. However, the neighborhood displays were better than ever. The mild weather makes it even easier to enjoy the Christmas decorations. While last year we shivered and walked briskly past the displays, this year we were able to stroll through the neighborhoods in a much more relaxed manner, chatting with neighbors and really enjoying the visual spectacles.
Two in particular are not to be missed - the Rhodes Family Christmas Display and the Chinati Court "Twas the Night Before Christmas" display, both in Cedar Park. The Rhodes family, every year, puts up an amazing synchronized light display at 2410 Sharon Drive. There is a 70,000 light waterfall feeding a stream and pond, 19 trees wrapped in light and a 45 foot arch over the driveway. Every year Mr. Rhodes adds features to the display. He broadcasts Christmas music by the Trans-Siberian Orchestra - you can tune in to 95.9 to hear the music while sitting in your car. However, I would recommend parking down the street, walking to the display and enjoying it up close.
The Rhodes family collects money every year for the Cedar Park food bank - last year they collected over $2000. So, after enjoying the spectacular lights and the synchronized light/music show, go ahead and drop a few bucks into the collection bucket. This year with the recession the need is greater than ever.
The other display I absolutely love is the in the cul-de-sac off of Sunchase in Cedar Park, Chinati Court, behind Milburn Park. There are 12 homes in the cul-de-sac, and each one takes part in a display that is based on the poem, "Twas the Night Before Christmas".
Cherry pickers are used to put up the lights in the center of the cul-de-sac, and a bonfire in the center and hot chocolate will help warm you up in between taking in the various displays. Each house takes a stanza from the poem, and you can read the poem in its entirety by starting at the first house and taking a circuit around the cul-de-sac. Last year we went to this display twice, with two sets of neighbors and their children, and each time the children were just bouncing with delight.
This display is also a collection point for Blue and Brown Santa, so, again, if you feel inclined, drop a few bucks for charity.
While those two displays are my favorites, there are many other neighborhoods that have great light displays. My husband and I took a walk a few nights ago in our own neighborhood, and while there was nothing as spectacular as the ones I've mentioned above, there were still many lovely decorated houses. We enjoyed our walk, enjoyed our neighborhood's Christmas spirit, and chatted with a few neighbors who were also out enjoying the mild weather.
One display I have heard is quite spectacular, which I haven't visited yet, is the one on 37th street in downtown Austin. To see it, from Guadalupe, take 37th street east. I have not been to this one yet, but I have heard it's pretty special. It's been going on for almost 30 years. The only caveat I have about this one - apparently there is some alcohol consumption on this street, particularly later at night, so if you have young children, you may either want to save this display for a night out with just your spouse, or go to it early in the evening and then go up to Cedar Park for the other, alcohol-free displays.
I hope you have fun this year checking out the wonderful neighborhood Christmas lights displays around Austin!