Downtown wired for ‘Illumination Celebration’
By Floyd Miller
ABILENE, TX – Mayor Norm Archibald flipped the switch Tuesday night to transform downtown Abilene from darkness into a twinkling wonderland for “Illumination Celebration.”More than 75,000 lights were recently installed in 50 trees and around 17 Storybook Sculptures to bring more attention to the pieces of art and to make downtown even more safe and accessible at night. The lights are permanent and will turn on each night. The funding for the project is a public/private partnership.”The Storybook Capital of Texas will shine even brighter thanks to the new lighting,” Archibald said. “We anticipate downtown Abilene will be an even bigger tourist attraction as families enjoy discovering the Storybook Sculptures both day and night.”The free, fun family celebration hosted by the Abilene Cultural Affairs Council and sponsored by AEP started at 6 p.m. with performances by Abilene Independent School District groups at Everman and Minter parks and on the lawn of Candies by Vleta’s. Food trucks were parked at the T&P Depot and The Grace Museum parking lots. Restaurants, museums and shops were open late. The Abilene Public Library had a special art activity for children.More than 30 costumed characters were roaming around greeting families thanks to Lynay students from the Center for Building Community at Abilene Christian University. Glow items were available for purchase. At 7:30 p.m., Archibald, joined by State Rep. Susan Lewis King, flipped the switch on downtown and trees up and down Cypress and Cedar streets, as well as along N. 1st Street between The Grace Museum and the T&P Depot, lit up. All of the Storybook Sculptures located around downtown based on various children’s book illustrators also lit up thanks to Bunkley Electric, the City of Abilene and custom lighting designed by J.R. Haupt & Associates. John Haupt, principal, is a former lead lighting designer with Walt Disney Co. The Storybook Sculptures are one of the reasons the 84th Texas Legislature named Abilene the official Storybook Capital of Texas last year.Also at 7:30 p.m., a scavenger hunt began that played by downloading the free GooseChase app to your mobile phone. Choose the game “Storybook Illumination Celebration.” Prizes were awarded for completing missions. The evening festival was filmed by “Voices in America,” which produces documentary programming and is hosted by James Earl Jones. “Voices” is producing a piece on “Abilene: The Storybook Capital of Texas” that will be broadcast on PBS stations across the nation to 60 million viewers. The date the program will air has not yet been set.