Friday, December 30, 2011

Blue, Blue Christmas and Happy "Blue" Year?

This year San Antonio "modernized" the famous River Walk holiday lights.  Yes, we are talking about the lights that put San Antonio on so many "must see" holiday destination lists.  This year they were changed to energy saving LEDs, and it's not without controversy.  Earlier this evening, we took a stroll on the River Walk so I could see the new lights for myself.  It's quite a change.  Gone are the garlands of twinkling lights cascading over the trees and reflecting their soft glow on the water creating a magical walk along the river.

 Photo from station WOAI
They've been replaced with the blue glow of LED lighting.  Out with the old bulbs and in with the new.  So going green has turned the famous River Walk blue.

It's not as bad as some of the comments I've read online, but somehow it lacks the San Antonio charm.  It appears that the combined multi-colored lights blend together into a harsh, modern glare.  The lights would work in Houston or Dallas, it just doesn't look like San Antonio.

It's more than the River Walk going blue over this, I checked several sites where locals discuss issues and couldn't find a positive comment anywhere.  I even found a reference to this as a "New Coke moment" for San Antonio.  There are petitions out there to bring back the old lights.  To be fair, they look OK; but if you have seen the old lights, they just don't have the same warm feel about them.

"Bring a flashlight" was one helpful hint I saw online.  It does feel rather dark.
By contrast, Houston Street stayed the same with the white cascading lights.

I enjoy showcasing my city in the best light possible, but sometimes I have to vote "thumbs down".  This all went off track when the lighting designer decided that draping the lights over the trees didn't work and planned a new, updated approach with lights wrapping the tree trunks.  It was approved with very little public input -- and even in spite of public objections.  If we must keep the current lights, I think the draping effect would at least make them more acceptable.
Along the way, someone forgot that the River Walk is all about the magic.  Sometimes the modern and green approach ignores what makes a place special.


  1. I agree. I miss the old lights. They had a warm and romantic feel about them. I vote to bring back the original lights.

  2. Thank you RW, it's going to be a tough one to resolve.

  3. This is probably a dumb question but don't the LED's come in white? Do they have to be so many different colors? Seems white lights are more peaceful...

  4. DG - The LEDs are available in both warm and cool white. All white is beautiful, but San Antonio is a very warm, colorful place so I wouldn't want to see white on the River Walk. Up close the lights are lime green, purple, orange, yellow and all kinds of Fiesta colors. The old lights twinkled independently, were softly colorful and just the right feeling.


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