Janice Williams Loves Austin And sometimes I write about it.

December 5, 2015

Austin Christmas Outing

Filed under: At home,Austin,Food,Music — Janice @ 11:26 pm

I just got in from a fun night feeling the holiday spirit.

Each year, KUT radio has a carol sing-a-long on the steps of the State capitol and they light the city’s downtown Christmas tree (as opposed to the Zilker Park “holiday tree” created from the moontower there). I have never been to this downtown event, although I have admired the downtown tree many times. In my early days in Austin, it was always a real tree and was brought in from somewhere. It wasn’t a giant tree like in Washington or Rockefeller Center, but big enough. A few years ago the city changed to an artificial tree. It’s a cone-shaped, quite obvious fake tree, but still pretty and festive. 2015-12-05 19.24.01

I heard the commercials this week for the singalong and asked my friend Deidre if she might want to go. She had plans for later in the evening, but we decided we could do it all. So tonight I met up with Deidre and two of her friends that have become my friends and we went downtown. The whole event was bigger than we expected. Finding parking wasn’t easy, but with the beautiful weather we didn’t mind the walk.

In front of the capitol were truly thousands of people in the dark, under the trees, singing Christmas carols along with a piano player and a songleader/disc jockey from the radio station. Programs with lyrics were passed out so everyone could sing all four verses of Hark the Herald Angels Sing. Giant projectors were casting big stars in kaleidoscopes across the building front. We sang along with great gusto on Feliz Navidad and Jingle Bells and many more. Then there was a 10 down to 1 countdown the tree was lit.

Along with the tree lighting was a whole little festival down on Congress. Booths selling food and drinks and homemade products and crafts and artwork. We strolled a bit before we got to the singing to see what they had. And then there were bands playing on each end of the street after the singing ended, so there was lots to do and see. I didn’t know there would be so much.

2015-12-05 19.24.49After, we walked down Congress and enjoyed the lights and the people-watching. Deidre knows MANY people and she was greeting someone about every block. We found a semi-fancy Italian pizza place to have some food. From the street it seemed like a bar and a utilitarian Italian restaurant. Getting inside, though, it was easier to see it was a little more upscale than I usually frequent and full of many young urban dwellers. They did have great food and we had some awesome pizza.

We ended the night where Deidre had planned on going originally: a beer garden south of the river that had a reunion of a band she had loved in the past, Black Before Red. I had never heard of them before, but they did have interesting songs with really unique melodies and chords and great lyrics, too. I may never get to hear them again, but it was a really good experience and a good night. 11058118_10153756154829346_7686185045814933066_o

Deidre’s friend Rebecca has lived in Austin a year longer than I have and comes from the Panhandle just like me. She and I were discussing how we don’t DO these Austin-y things like we once did. When we moved to Austin we were exploring different parts of town and going to the festivals and trying new restaurants. Now we do the same things over and over and stick to the familiar. She said, “You know the nickname of Austin, right?” I said, “What? The Violet Crown?” She said, “No, the new nickname is the Velvet Rut.” That described it. It’s comfortable, beautiful, and yet too familiar. I was glad to get out of the rut tonight.

I’ll steal Deidre’s selfie to show you the girls celebrating on Congress.

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