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Christmas displays light up the world

Christmas displays light up the world
Enjoy light displays by civic and community organizations, as well as the Wilson County 4-H Llama Project, at the Emily Ann Theatre and Gardens in Wimberley. Gather around the bonfire to sing carols and sip hot cocoa after walking through glittering holiday display.

This time of year, many places become winter wonderlands of light that delight the eye, bringing festive cheer to the darkest nights.

As you decorate your home and Christmas tree with colorful lights, do you ever wonder how and when this tradition came about? It goes back as far as the 1700s, when upper-class homes in Germany were decorated with candles glued directly to a tree to celebrate the holidays. The first known electrically illuminated Christmas tree was the creation of Edward H. Johnson, a friend and associate of inventor Thomas Edison. He had 90 red, white, and blue light bulbs, about the size of a walnut, especially made for the Christmas tree at his home on Fifth Avenue in New York City. The year was 1882. Johnson became known as the “Father of the Electric Christmas Tree Lights.”

In 1895, President Grover Cleveland sponsored the first electrically lit Christmas tree in the White House, but it wasn’t until 1904 that colorful electric lights were used to decorate outside. By the 1930s, electric Christmas lights had become a standard part of holiday decorating.

There are many places to enjoy Christmas lights. Here are some to make a journey worthwhile!

Light the Way

The University of the Incarnate Word, located off U.S. 281 at Broadway and Hildebrand in San Antonio, presents its 27th annual Light the Way, as a gift to the community. The official lighting of nearly 1 million twinkling multi-colored lights occurred during a celebration Nov. 23. The campus will be illuminated each evening until Jan. 6. Light the Way is free and the public is invited to this truly magnificent experience. You can drive your car through the campus, or for a spectacular view you can stroll through this winter wonderland. If you choose to walk, drive through the Broadway entrance and there will be someone there to direct you to the parking area. Take a thermos of coffee or hot cocoa to enjoy along the way. As you meander through the campus grounds, be sure to watch for the giant Christmas cards made by students at the university. What a beautiful way to celebrate the holidays!

Contact: 210-829-6001,

Emily Ann

Trail Of Lights

The Emily Ann Theatre and Gardens in Wimberley was founded to celebrate the life of a 16-year-old who tragically died in a car accident in 1996. For the past 14 years, businesses, individuals, the community of Wimberley, and groups from around the state, including the Wilson County 4-H Llama Project, have come together to create glittering holiday displays as part of the Emily Ann Trail of Lights.

This is a walking tour, leading visitors through 6 acres of decorated light displays, ending at Ye Olde Yule Log (bonfire) burning nightly as weather permits. Here you can enjoy singing Christmas carols, sipping hot cocoa, and roasting marshmallows, compliments of the Yule Log Sponsor. Hot dogs and s’mores also are available for a small fee. The trail is not wheelchair accessible, but golf carts and drivers are provided for handicapped individuals.

There is no admission to the Trail of Lights; however donations are gratefully accepted. It is open nightly (weather permitting), Sunday through Thursday 6-9 p.m. and Friday 6-10 p.m. from Thanksgiving Day through Dec. 31. Last year, more than 25,000 visitors enjoyed the delightful Trail of Lights.

“This is a magical place where the beauty of nature and Christmas meet”.

Contact: P.O. Box 801 (mailing address) or 1101 F.M. 2325 (physical address), Wimberley, TX 78676; 512-847-6969.

Moody Gardens Festival of Lights

It is hard to imagine a more perfect background for a display of more than 1 million twinkling lights than the Pyramids at Moody Gardens on Galveston Island. Add 100 sound-enhanced animated displays, nightly live entertainment, an outdoor skating rink and an Arctic Ice Slide and you have the 12th annual Festival of Lights. This event runs through Jan. 4. Check their website for hours of operation, ticket prices, and special offers.

Contact: 800-582-4673;

Fiesta de las


Experience the San Antonio River Walk and more than 6,000 luminarias warmly glowing candles in sand-filled bags lining the walkways and bridges of the San Antonio River in the downtown area. This is a symbolic “lighting of the way” for the Holy Family in search of a place to stay on that cold winter’s night more than 2,000 years ago. This old tradition begins at dusk on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday Dec. 6-22, an event that should not be missed.

Of course, the traditional lighting of the river is already in full swing since the day after Thanksgiving, and the lights will remain on until Jan. 6. No matter how many times you have seen this spectacular display of lights, you never grow tired of seeing them once again.

For information on events along the River Walk, visit

We all know that even one light can make a difference in the dark of night; can you imagine a million lights?

Harry and Linda Kaye Perez are freelance writers from just down the road from Floresville. Together they share a passion for traveling and writing, and discovering the very best in all corners of the world. Email them at

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