Rain closures costly for Trail of Lights organizers

Exit tunnel at Trail of Lights 2017. (KXAN Photo/Calily Bien)
Exit tunnel at Trail of Lights 2017. (KXAN Photo/Calily Bien)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Trail of Lights organizers say the rain Austin’s getting lately is putting a financial damper on this year’s event.

The Trail of Lights Foundation was forced to close the lights show on Saturday due to rain and Sunday due to the ground still being saturated. Organizers say in some spots, there were six inches of standing water that had to be vacuumed out by pump trucks.

“They suck the water off in heavily saturated areas, and we then put mulch on top of that to help it dry up,” said Trail of Lights Foundation Executive Director James Russell.

Russell said the remediation cost several thousand dollars.

“It was very important to us to open tonight, as one of the last free nights,” he said Monday.

The non-profit that puts on the event also faces a potential closure Tuesday night, as rain is expected again in the forecast.

Russell says finances are already tight. His foundation depends on sponsors and ticket sales to operate, and Saturday and Sunday would have brought in big crowds. He’s still calculating how much money was lost losing out on two big paid weekend nights.

“That’s a first for us, so we’re going to see,” he said.

Russell says his hope is that the Trail of Lights can make up for some of the money lost with big crowds in the days leading up to Christmas. He says if more rain comes through, however, he’ll have no choice but to put safety first and close the park off again until the ground is cleared up.

“We want folks that are actually going to be out here to have a full experience with the Trail of Lights,” he said.

Russell says his group should be able to announce early Tuesday whether the lights show will be open or not Tuesday night.

For more information or to purchase tickets, visit AustinTrailofLights.org. 

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