Hidalgo celebrates 22nd Festival of Lights

20121129_Trolley-Festival-of-Lights_MG_3162_featureHidalgo is a small town right on the border with a population of 11,198. Twice a year, it becomes a boom town, bringing in hundreds of thousands of visitors from both sides of the border. Hidalgo even won – for the fifth time – the prestigious Grand Pinnacle for their classification in both festivals – Festival of Lights and Borderfest (held each March) – by the International Festivals and Events Association.

This year is shaping up to be another award winner with their line up of entertainment and new lights. Brought over from this year’s Borderfest will be all the lights of England – Tower of London, London Bridge and the castle which will have it’s own magical turn as it becomes Cinderella’s castle.

Something new will be added on Dec. 1 – a big surprise – right in front of the City Hall. There is certainly something enchanting about riding around the city on trolleys, trains, a tram or even horse drawn carriages. Millions of sparkling lights flicker and twinkle in the eyes of the beholder as the kid in everyone comes out for the night.

Starting rather simply 22 years ago, the Hidalgo Chamber of Commerce wanted to give people a reason for stopping by Hidalgo to showcase its attributes. A few years into the event they decided to add the dinner, entertainment and trolley rides. It wasn’t until about seven years ago the rides were open to the public.

“After the dinner the first year I was here, people were standing around wanting to ride the trolley which, at that time, was only for those who had bought the package,” Kay Wolf, assistant city manager, said. “People walked up to me and asked if they could ride the trolley. Explaining it was just for the package, they asked how much I would charge to ride. After asking the trolley driver and narrator if they would go again and getting a yes, I pulled a number from the sky. ‘$3,’ I said. And that started the open trolley rides. Now we have eight trolleys, two trains, a double tram and horse drawn carriages.”

20121129_FestivalofLights_MG_6654Starting off with a Festival of Lights Illuminated Parade on December 1 at 6 p.m., the theme being “A Victorian Christmas,” this will include Mootopia Milk and Oreo Cookies with Santa. Food booths and entertainment will be available.

Santa will be available every night until the Dec. 23 when he must head to the North Pole to get ready for his big night of the year. Santa and Mrs. Claus will be at the side of city hall, 704 E. Texano, along with Santa’s Reindeer Stable.

From Dec. 2 through 19 – with the exception of the 18th – a dinner/concert/trolley ride, all for $10, will take place in front of city hall, as does all entertainment. Horse drawn carriage rides are a separate $6. As usual, local non-profits will offer up the dinner of roast beef, green beans, corn, mashed potatoes, roll, dessert, coffee or tea.

Individual train or trolley rides are $4, running from Dec. 2-30, excluding Dec. 18, 24 and 25. Tickets can be purchased at the State Farm Arena or call 843-5311.

A Christmas Posada will be held Dec. 18, which is a great family tradition to include in your Christmas festivities.

People come from Corpus Christi, Laredo and all over to experience this dazzling event. As one enthusiastic participant proclaimed when stepping down from the trolley,

“It’s better than Disneyland!”

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