Light Up The World

Published in The La Vernia News on December 5, 2013

Christmas Displays Light up the World

Emily Ann-1

    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, New York City. The year was 1882. Johnson became known as the Father of the Electric Christmas Tree Lights.          

Everyday Journeys

Harry and Linda kaye Perez

                                                                                   Courtesy/Emily Ann Theatre and Gardens

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

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

                    The photo below courtesy of University of the Incarnate Word

Light the Way-UIW

             Light The Way 

     The University of the Incarnate Word, located between Highway 281 and Broadway in San Antonio, Texas  presents the 27th Annual Light the Way, as a gift to the community. The official lighting of nearly one million twinkling multi-colored lights occurred during a celebration on November 23. The campus will be illuminated each evening until January 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 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. Bring 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 Information:  (210) 829-6001       

            Emily Ann Trail of Lights                                                                                                                                                           


   The Emily Ann Theatre and Gardens in Wimberely 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 LaVernia Llama Club, 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 six 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 smores are also 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 6:00 to 9:00 and Friday 6:00 to 10:00 from Thanksgiving Day through December 31. Last year over 25,000 visitors enjoyed the delightful Trail of Lights.                   

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

Contact Information:

P.O. Box 801 (mailing address)                                                                                                                                                                                         1101 FM 2325 (physical address)                                                                                                                                                                             Wimberley, Texas 78676 (512) 847-6969

 Moody Gardens Festival of Lights, Galveston Island, Texas

        It is hard to imagine a more perfect background for a display of over one million twinkling lights than the Pyramids at Moody Gardens. 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 January 4. Check their website for hours of operation, ticket pricing and special offers.

Contact  Information: (800) 582-4673


Courtesy Moody gardens

 San Antonio River Walk-Fiesta de las Luminarias

        Experience the 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 to symbolically mark the "lighting of the way" for the Holy Family in search of a place to stay on that cold winter’s night over 2,000 years ago. This old tradition begins at dusk on Friday, Saturday & Sunday from December 6 to December 22, one 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 January 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 Perez 2012