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[Austin Zilker Tree Lighting Ceremony]

[00:00:06]

GOOD EVENING, EVERYBODY.

AND WELCOME TO THE 54TH ANNUAL LOOK OR HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING PRESENTED BY THE CITY OF AUSTIN PERFORMANCES BY THE AUSTIN CIVIC WIND ENSEMBLE AND THE BARTON HILLS CHOIR.

WELCOME.

AND THANK YOU FOR TUNING IN TO THE 54TH ANNUAL ZILKER HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING.

NOW THIS ISN'T JUST ONE OF THE TALLEST HOLIDAY TREES IN THE WORLD.

IT'S A SYMBOL THAT WE ARE UNIQUELY AUSTIN.

THE TREE LIGHTING UNITES OUR COMMUNITY EVERY YEAR AND THIS EVENING.

SO WE CAN START THE HOLIDAY SEASON TOGETHER.

WE'RE BRINGING IT DIRECTLY TO YOU.

UNDENIABLY HITS A BIT DIFFERENT THIS YEAR, BUT FORTUNATELY THE ONLY TRAFFIC TO FACES FROM FAMILY AND PETS IN YOUR LIVING ROOM.

SO YOU ARE IN FOR A GREAT SHOW.

SO JUST GRAB THAT LAST PIECE OF LEFTOVER PIE FOR SOME HOT CHOCOLATE OR EGGNOG, AND SIT BACK IN YOUR FAVORITE CHAIR.

IN AUSTIN, THERE'S HISTORY DOWN EVERY STREET AND AROUND EVERY CORNER TO FIND SOME OF THE MOST INTERESTING PARTS OF OUR CITY.

ALL YOU HAVE TO DO IS LOOK UP.

OUR FRIENDS AT AUSTIN ENERGY ARE CELEBRATING 125 YEARS OF SERVICE TO AUSTINITES.

CONGRATULATIONS ON THE ANNIVERSARY AND THANK YOU FOR MAINTAINING OUR ICONIC MOON TOWERS.

BELIEVE IT OR NOT, AUSTIN, TRAVIS CAN AT ONE TIME WAS RURAL AND IT'S ALL DUE TO GROWTH THAT IT WAS BENEFICIAL FOR AUSTIN TO CREATE ITS OWN ELECTRIC UTILITY.

SO THAT WAS SORT OF THE BEGINNING IN THE CENTRAL TEXAS AREA.

WE ARE SO SURROUNDED BY ELECTRIC LIGHTS ALL THE TIME.

PEOPLE HAVE NO CONCEPTION OF HOW DARK IT WAS JUST EVERY NIGHT IN A CITY LIKE AUSTIN.

IF YOU GO BACK 125 YEARS, LIFE WAS DIFFICULT.

IT WAS A LITTLE BIT OF A PIONEER OR FRONTIER TOWN.

EVERYTHING WAS DONE BY HAND, BUT ALL OF THESE MANUAL CHORES, YOU HAD TO WALK TO WORK OR MAYBE RIDE A HORSE IF YOU HAD ONE.

AND SO THE OPPORTUNITY OF ELECTRICITY WAS THAT I COULD DO SOME OF THESE CHORES FOR US.

IT CAN PUMP THE WATER HORSE.

HE COULDN'T LIGHT THE CITIES FOR US SO THAT WE COULD STAY OUT AFTER DARK.

SO THEY WANTED TO PROVIDE ELECTRIC STREET LIGHTING, FAMOUS MOONLIGHT TOWERS WERE ERECTED AROUND THE CITY AND THEY SPREAD THE LIGHT OVER A WIDE AREA.

THEY DIDN'T HAVE STREET LIGHTS.

THEY HAD THESE BIG TOWERS THAT WAS THERE, VERY TALL, PROBABLY THREE TIMES AS TALL AS A REGULAR STREET LIGHT THAT YOU MAY SEE EVEN ON THE ROAD.

THEY ALSO HAVE A HALO EFFECT EFFECT BECAUSE YOU WANT IT TO LIGHT, TO BE DISTRIBUTED AND HELPING PROVIDE SOME SAFETY FOR INDIVIDUAL WHO WANTS TO WALK AT NIGHT AND THEY WON'T FALL BECAUSE THEY GOT STURDY IRON.

THEY, THEY UP THERE FOR A VERY LONG TIME FOR HIM AND EVEN THE WINDS AND KNOCK ON KNOCK 'EM DOWN.

ANYTHING ELSE? SO, UH, SO THEY'RE VERY SECURE TOO.

AND THEY WOULD COME ON ROUGHLY AT DUSK AND DAWN, THEY WOULD GO OUT AUSTIN STUCK WITH THE TOWER LIGHTS LONG ENOUGH THAT THEY BECAME A NOSTALGIC OBJECT OF INTEREST.

THEY WILL BEGIN TO AGE THE AGE THAT CAUGHT UP WITH THEM.

AND WE ACTUALLY PUT ONE OF OUR MANAGERS IN CHARGE OF THAT PROJECT TO GET IT COMPLETED, TO PUT THOSE BACK THE WAY THEY WERE ORIGINALLY BUILT.

THAT PROCESS TOOK YEARS FIVE, SIX, SEVEN YEARS TO COMPLETE.

AND THEY ARE STILL LIT UP TO THIS DAY, HOPEFULLY IN BETTER SHAPE THAN WHEN THEY WERE ORIGINALLY BUILT.

AND OVER THE YEARS, WE STARTED OUT WITH 31 TOWERS DOWN TO 17.

THEY WERE REGISTERED AS A TEXAS HISTORICAL LANDMARK.

NOW IT'S ACTUALLY A HISTORICAL PIECE THAT'S BEING PRESERVED.

THESE LIGHT BULBS WERE NOT UNIQUE TO AUSTIN.

THEY WERE USED IN CITIES LIKE DETROIT AND FORT WAYNE, INDIANA AND OTHER PLACES.

SO IT WAS A COMMON THING FOR CITIES TO HAVE THESE MOON TOWERS.

AUSTIN WAS DIFFERENT.

AS OTHER CITIES GOT TO BETTER TECHNOLOGIES, THEY REPLACED THE MOON TOWERS WITH THE NEWER TECHNOLOGY.

AND AUSTIN DIDN'T REALLY QUITE GET AROUND TO THAT FOR QUITE A WHILE.

AND THEN BY THEN WE GOT USED TO THE MOON TOWERS AND KIND OF LIKE THEM.

SO NOW THEY'RE ONE OF OUR FEATURES AND SOMETHING WE CELEBRATE.

SO WE'VE ADOPTED IT AS A PART OF OUR KIOSKS WHERE BRAND THERE'S A NEW FIESTA IN THE MAKING.

AS WE SPEAK SAT AT THE MOON TOWER, INTRODUCING OUR CITY MANAGER, SPENCER CROCK.

IT'S A PLEASURE TO BE WITH YOU HERE THIS EVENING.

THIS YEAR HAS BROUGHT ITS SHARE OF ADVERSITY, BUT I HAVE BEEN AWESTRUCK BY THE STRENGTH

[00:05:01]

AND ABILITY OF OUR COMMUNITY.

AS YOUR CITY MANAGER.

I HAVE BEEN INSPIRED BY THE UNWAVERING COMMITMENTS OF CITY EMPLOYEES WHO PROVIDE CRUCIAL SERVICES DURING CHALLENGING TIMES.

THANK YOU FOR YOUR DEDICATION TO OUR COMMUNITY.

AUSTIN.

I'VE ALSO SEEN YOU RISE TO THE OCCASION, IDENTIFYING OBSTACLES AND CHALLENGES THAT HAVE BEEN PERSISTENT FOR FAR TOO LONG, PATIENCE, EMPATHY, AND TIME, ALONG WITH STRONG COMMUNITY LEADERSHIP AND ADVOCACY ALLOWED VOICES TO BE HEARD AND COMMUNITIES TO BECOME STRONGER.

MY FAMILY AND I ARE PROUD TO BE A PART OF THIS COMMUNITY.

AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO THIS TREE SHINING IN OUR BEAUTIFUL PARK.

I WISH EACH OF YOU A SAFE, PEACEFUL, AND BRIGHT HOLIDAY TO TELL US ABOUT THE WONDERFUL THINGS THAT ARE HAPPENING IN AUSTIN'S PARKS, KIM MCNEILLY, WITH THE PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENTS.

THANKS SPENCER.

AS THINGS CHANGED AROUND THE WORLD, AUSTIN'S PARKS HAVE BECOME A REFUGE FROM TRAILS TO POCKET PARKS, BIKE WAYS TO WATERWAYS.

AUSTIN'S 300 PARKS HAVE BEEN GETTING SOME USE.

THE PARKS AND RECREATION TEAM HAS WORKED TO KEEP OUR CULTURAL SPACES AND NATURAL PLACES OPENED AND MAINTAINED SO THAT WE ARE ALL ABLE TO ENJOY OUR CITY WITHIN A PARK.

WE DID NOT AND COULD NOT HAVE DONE THIS ALONE.

OUR NON-PROFIT PARTNERS ALONG WITH FELLOW CITY DEPARTMENTS HAVE OFFERED TREMENDOUS SUPPORT.

WHEN PARK SPACES ARE IN USE SOMETHING SPECIAL HAPPENS.

KIDS PLAY INDIVIDUALS ARE NO LONGER STRANGERS AND COMMUNITY IS CREATED.

THANK YOU, AUSTIN.

THIS IS HOW OUR WORK IS INSPIRED.

NOW, LOOKING FORWARD AND LOOKING UP, WE SEE EXCITEMENT FOR THE NEW YEAR.

THE PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT IS HONORED TO STEWARD PARKLAND AND CONTINUE OUR ZILKER HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING.

NOW LET'S HEAR FROM OUR PARTNERS AT THE TRAIL OF LIGHTS FOUNDATION.

THANKS KIM.

HELLO.

MY NAME IS RACHEL GREEN AND I'M THE PRESIDENT OF THE TRAIL OF LIGHTS FOUNDATION.

I'M HERE TO ANNOUNCE THAT THE AUSTIN TRAIL OF LIGHTS IS ON THE FOUNDATION IS THRILLED TO HOST THIS 56 YEAR TRADITION.

AUSTIN'S LONGEST RUNNING HOLIDAY EVENT.

WHAT IS OLD IS NEW.

AGAIN, WE ARE THROWING A BACK A FEW DECADES AND HOSTING A DRIVE-THROUGH EVENT.

OUR FOCUS IS ON KEEPING AUSTIN SAFE WHILE BRINGING HOLIDAY CHEER IN A YEAR.

THAT NEEDS IT THE MOST.

IF YOU HAVE VISITED US BEFORE, YOU WILL SEE DECEMBER IN A WHOLE NEW WAY WITH SEVERAL DISPLAYS, WE IMAGINE IN A DRIVE THROUGH ENVIRONMENT, BUT DON'T WORRY.

SANTA WILL BE THERE UNTIL CHRISTMAS.

THE TRAIL OF LIGHTS WILL BE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC STARTING TONIGHT, NOVEMBER 29TH THROUGH JANUARY 3RD.

THANKS TO OUR PARTNERSHIP WITH THE CITY OF AUSTIN.

WE WILL HAVE 30 NIGHTS TO ENJOY OVER 2 MILLION LIGHTS AND TUNNELS GALORE TIME AND DAY SPECIFIC TICKETS ARE REQUIRED IN ORDER TO ENSURE A SMOOTH RUNNING EVENT AND ARE AVAILABLE@AUSTINTROLLOFLIGHTS.ORG.

PLEASE JOIN US IN THE HEART OF AUSTIN ED ZILKER PARK.

I LOOK FORWARD TO SEEING YOU THERE.

SPEAKING OF LIGHTS, LET'S HEAR FROM OUR FRIENDS AT AUSTIN ENERGY.

THANK YOU.

I'M JACKIE SERGEANT AUSTIN ENERGY, GENERAL MANAGER, AUSTIN ENERGY HAS BEEN POWERING THE COMMUNITY FOR 125 YEARS.

GOING BACK TO 1895.

WHEN WE STARTED GENERATING ELECTRICITY TO LIGHT UP THE MOON TOWERS, WE ARE PROUD OF OUR LEGACY OF SAFELY DELIVERING CLEAN, AFFORDABLE, RELIABLE ENERGY, AND EXCELLENT CUSTOMER SERVICE.

AUSTIN ENERGY IS CUSTOMER DRIVEN AND COMMUNITY FOCUSED, SUPPORTING EVENTS LIKE THIS DEMONSTRATES OUR COMMITMENT TO THE COMMUNITY, BRINGING PEOPLE TOGETHER TO CELEBRATE THE START OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON BY LIGHTING.

THE ZILKER HAS BEEN A TRADITION FOR 54 YEARS.

SO WE ARE EXCITED TO BE TOGETHER.

ALTHOUGH VIRTUALLY THIS YEAR, IF WE ALL CLOSE OUR EYES, WE CAN PROBABLY IMAGINE THAT WE ARE SPINNING UNDER THE TREE TOGETHER TOGETHER.

THAT'S WHAT THIS EVENT HIGHLIGHTS, HOW AUSTINITES POWER THROUGH CHALLENGES AND OBSTACLES AND COME TOGETHER STRONGER THAN EVER.

THIS EVENT IS ALSO A GREAT OPPORTUNITY TO RECOGNIZE OUR DEDICATED EMPLOYEES WHO KEEP THE ENERGY FLOWING.

EVEN DURING A GLOBAL PANDEMIC.

ELECTRICITY IS AN ESSENTIAL SERVICE AND AUSTIN ENERGY IS HERE FOR YOU.

AND WE LOOK FORWARD TO SERVING YOU IN THE NEXT 125 YEARS.

AUSTIN BE STRONG, BE SAFE AND BE WELL BE THERE FOR EACH OTHER.

EVEN IF IT LOOKS A LITTLE DIFFERENT THIS YEAR AND ENJOY YOUR HOLIDAY SEASON BACK TO YOU QUITA, LAST NIGHTS, AREN'T SHY ABOUT HARD WORK AND WE NOTICE AND APPRECIATE IT.

WHEN WE SEE IT.

NOW, SPEAKING OF HARD WORK, I KNOW HOW LONG IT TAKES ME TO PUT UP MY CHRISTMAS TREE.

NOW IMAGINE IT'S 155 FEET

[00:10:01]

TALL WITH 3,300 LIGHT BULBS.

WELL, SOME PEOPLE CLAIM BEING THE FIRST ON THE BLOCK TO DECORATE AS A BADGE OF HONOR, BUT DID YOU KNOW AUSTIN ENERGY STARTS SETTING UP THE TREE IN OCTOBER? WELL, HERE'S A BEHIND THE SCENES LOOK AT WHAT IT TAKES TO MAKE IT HAPPEN.

THE WAY I REALLY BECAME AWARE OF AUSTIN ENERGY AS A CHILD, IT WAS A FRUIT, THE SOCCER CHRISTMAS TREE.

THIS TREE IS A MOON TOWER LIT UP WITH ALL SORTS OF LIGHTS.

AND YOU CAN SEE THIS FROM MILES AWAY, CAUSE IT WOULD JUST SORT OF DOMINATE OVER THE LANDSCAPE.

YOU'D HAVE LIKE THE TOWER OF UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT AUSTIN, THE CAPITOL BUILDING, AND THEN THE ZILKER TREE WAS THE OTHER TALL THING.

JUST LIKE BEAUTIFUL.

THE SOAKER TREE IS 155 FEET TALL.

SO IT'S NO SMALL FEAT TO INSTALL THE LIGHTS.

AND THE WORK STARTS MONTHS IN ADVANCE AND THERE ARE 3,300 LIGHTS.

THE GENIUS WAS THE MAN HAD FIGURED OUT SPACE FACING THE YELLOW MUMS TRADITION AND WOULD ALWAYS DO IT, I BELIEVE RIGHT AFTER THANKSGIVING AND LET IT STAY TO CHRISTMAS.

AND MAYBE EVEN DO YOU THINK HE WOULD TAKE IT DOWN? WE WOULD HAVE A CELEBRATION BY PEOPLE TO COME WITH, PICK SOMEONE WITHIN THE COMMUNITY TO PLUG THE LIGHTS IN AND THEN IT'S LIKE, IT GIVES AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOUR CUSTOMERS.

PEOPLE WHO LIVE HERE, THE ONES WHO PAY THE BILLS TO COME AND CELEBRATE.

LET'S KICK OFF THE, UH, THE CHRISTMAS SEASON, THE HOLIDAY SEASON AT THE END OF THE YEAR.

AND LET'S LIGHT UP ZILKER PARK TO DO IT IMPRESSIVE.

BUT DOES IT WORK? HMM, WE'LL FIND OUT IN JUST A MOMENT.

BUT FIRST LET'S HEAR FROM AUSTIN'S MAYOR AND CITY.

HELLO AUSTIN.

WE'RE EXPERIENCING THE ZILKER HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING IN A NEW WAY IN A DIFFERENT WORLD.

AND WE ARE HAPPY TO SEE THIS CELEBRATION CONTINUE.

SO TAKE A LOOK AROUND YOU.

WE'RE NOT SPINNING UNDER THE TREE TOGETHER, BUT WE ARE STILL SHARING MEMORIES WITH THOSE CLOSEST TO US.

LET'S ALL REMEMBER THAT ISOLATION AND LONELINESS ARE A REALITY FOR MANY THIS TIME OF YEAR.

SO MAKE A POINT TO REACH OUT TO YOUR NEIGHBORS.

SHOW SOME COMPASSION, CONTINUE TO BE THE COMMUNITY THAT, THAT YOU WANT TO SEE CONNECTING WITH EACH OTHER IS IMPORTANT DURING THESE TIMES.

AND THESE CONNECTIONS ARE WHAT MAKE AUSTIN STRONG.

WE ARE THANKFUL FOR THE INDIVIDUALS, CITY STAFF, THE HEALTH AND ESSENTIAL WORKERS WHO HAVE WORKED TIRELESSLY TO KEEP OUR CITY HEALTHY AND MOVING.

THANK YOU TO ALL THOSE WHO HAVE SACRIFICED FOR THE SAFETY AND WELLBEING OF THE REST OF US.

THANK YOU ALSO TO THE YOUNG PEOPLE OF AUSTIN WHO HAVE TAKEN ON RE-IMAGINING OF SCHOOL AND, AND CHANGES TO THEIR DAILY LIFE WITH SUCH EARNESTNESS AND TRUE GRACE, WE LOOK FORWARD TO THE FUTURE THAT YOU ARE GOING TO USHER INTO OUR GREAT CITY.

YOU KNOW, IF YOU HAD TOLD ME LAST YEAR, THE CHALLENGES WE WOULD BE FACING THIS YEAR, I DON'T KNOW THAT I WOULD HAVE BELIEVED YOU, BUT SITTING WHERE I AM NOW, I CAN REFLECT BACK ON THE PAST YEAR AND I CAN FIND COMFORT IN, IN SEEING SOMETHING FAMILIAR AND BRIGHT.

SO EMBRACE THE ONES YOU LOVE AND THE ONES THAT ARE NEAR, WHAT THAT, WHATEVER THE HOLIDAY MEANS TO YOU.

HOWEVER, YOU MAY CELEBRATE THIS SEASON.

LET'S SEE OUR, OUR BEAUTIFUL TREE SHINING AS A SYMBOL OF THE HOLIDAY SEASON, LEADING US INTO A BRAND NEW YEAR.

AND NOW I'D LIKE TO INTRODUCE AUSTIN CITY COUNCIL TO OFFER A HOLIDAY MESSAGE.

THIS HOLIDAY SEASON BE A PART OF IMPROVING THE LIVES OF OTHERS.

SO TOGETHER WE CONTINUE TO BECOME STRONGER THAN EVER FOR ONE ANOTHER.

USE YOUR VOICE TO BRING ABOUT POSITIVE CHANGE, CREATE TIME TO TAKE CARE OF YOURSELF, LEARN TO MORE FULLY APPRECIATE OUR UNIQUE QUALITIES.

MAKE MEMORIES WITH FAMILIES, FRIENDS, AND NEIGHBORS, BE COURAGEOUS AND REACH BEYOND WHAT IS FAMILIAR LEADING INTO NEXT YEAR FOR YOUR GOALS AND ADVENTURES.

REMEMBER, WE ARE AUSTIN.

WE WILL DO THIS TOGETHER FROM MY FAMILY, VIEWERS.

THANK YOU

[00:15:01]

AND HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

AND NOW THE BARTON HILLS CHOIR AUSTIN IS FILLED WITH ART, THANKS TO INSPIRATIONAL LOCAL TALENT, AND

[00:20:01]

THOSE THAT TEACH WITHIN OUR COMMUNITY EACH YEAR, THE WINNERS OF THE ANNUAL CITY-WIDE ZILKER HOLIDAY TREE CONTEST EARNED THE PRIVILEGE OF LIGHTING THE TREE.

AND I'M PROUD TO INTRODUCE SIX YOUNG ARTISTS WHO WERE ABOUT TO MAKE AUSTIN A. LITTLE BRIGHTER.

HI, MY NAME'S ALIAH AND I'M 10 YEARS OLD.

MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE SILICA TREE IS THAT IT BRINGS PEOPLE TOGETHER TO CELEBRATE THE HOLIDAY HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM THE FAMILY.

HI, MY NAME IS AVA AND WE'RE 11 YEARS OLD.

MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT THIS LIQUOR TREE IS SPENDING UNDER THE LIGHTS FROM THE WESSELS FAMILY.

HELLO, MY NAME IS I AM.

FUCK I TELL YOU MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT IT'S I AM SEVEN YEARS OLD.

MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT TREE IS IT'S SHINY AND TALL.

HAPPY.

YAY.

HI, MY NAME IS ANNA KATARINA AND I'M SEVEN AND A HALF YEARS OLD.

MY FAVORITE THING ABOUT THE ZILKHA TREE IS THAT IT HAS A LOT OF LIGHTS AND, UM, IT'S VERY DECO AND YOU CAN SEE IT FROM A LOT OF PLACES.

MY NAME IS ANNA MANI IN ANGUS TURNED EIGHT YEARS OLD LAST MONTH.

MY FAVORITE THING IS TO COME TOGETHER TO MAKE THE TREE.

AND NOW IT'S TIME TO OFFICIALLY START AUSTIN'S 20, 20 HOLIDAY SEASON AND LIGHT THE TREE.

ARE WE READY OR ARE YOU READY? THANKS.

YOU ARE SPENDING HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

MORE ABOUT YOU AND THE ZILKER HOLIDAY TREE IN AUSTIN, TEXAS.GOV/HOLIDAY TREE.

SO FOR HOLIDAY TREE LIGHTING HAS BEEN BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE CITY OF AUSTIN WITH GENEROUS SUPPORT BY THE PARKS AND RECREATION DEPARTMENT, AUSTIN ENERGY ATX N AND THE TRAIL OF LIGHTS FOUNDATION.

THIS PROGRAM HAS BEEN BUILD HOLIDAY CHEER BY SHARING THIS VIDEO WITH FRIENDS AND FAMILY, YOU CAN FIND IT ON THE CITY OF AUSTIN'S YOUTUBE CHANNEL .

AS YOU EXPLORE WHAT'S AUSTIN HAS TO OFFER THIS HOLIDAY SEASON.

WE ASKED HIM TO BE CONSIDERATE TO EACH OTHER, OUR FAMILY, TO YOURS.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS.

.

* This transcript was compiled from uncorrected Speech-to-Text.