Photographed by Brian Wancho
Don’t be left in the dark…this is the last week to experience the Celebration of Lights in the San Jacinto Plaza in Downtown El Paso. If you have yet to take in this beautifully decorated Victorian theme winter wonderland, you have until Sunday, January 8 to witness this incredible transformation of the park to an illuminated playground for both kids and adults.
For the first time since the 2012 Celebration of Lights, the San Jacinto Plaza was decorated with an abundance of lights, a towering 50-foot high Afghan Pine Tree featuring LED lights, a life-size nativity scene and interactive illuminated ornaments where visitors can pose for pictures. The city went even further by introducing Winter Fest; an ice skating rink situated between the El Paso Museum of Art and The Plaza Theatre along with a series of pop-up business selling anything from food and drink to holiday gifts. “I was blown away by how much effort the city put into this,” said local resident Erin Upson. “It was such a great time, I will probably go again before it ends. There’s a lot of people there but there’s enough to see so you don’t feel crowded.”
It has been four years since visitors attended the tree lighting at the park after a controversial reconstruction plan delayed the completion until April last year transforming it from its historical, traditional ambiance to a more modern one. Since reopening volumes of people have passed through the $5.3 million dollar renovated park to enjoy the fiberglass sculpture of Los Lagartos by nationally recognized artist Luis Jimenez, catch a game of chess or checkers on the concrete erected tables distributed throughout the square alongside table tennis and a splash pad not meant for kids only. There’s even a cafe where visitors can enjoy a bite to eat and pet friendly water fountains are situated inside the park.
Residents are still in awe of the magnificent transformation of Downtown. “I didn’t know there was so much to do. The lights are incredible and there are so many people. It’s beautiful,” said Raquel Finn, first time visitor to the park.
The lights turn on daily at 5:30 pm and the Celebration of Lights runs through Sunday, December 8, 2017.