City spends another $250,000 on LED lights for Riverwalk

Varied reaction to 3 sets of lights in 3 years

SAN ANTONIO - In 2010, San Antonians and tourists said goodbye to a San Antonio tradition, thousands of incandescent bulbs hanging above the river.

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In 2011, the city ushered in a brighter, more ostentatious display of 1.76 million LED lights wrapping the trees that line the Riverwalk.

The debut of the $650,000 light display brought mixed reviews. This year the city scrapped that plan in favor of spending money on a whole new set of LED lights.

"I think there was a desire by the citizens, a lot of people, to go back to the draped look, so that was taken into consideration to go back to the traditional look that had been in San Antonio," said Assistant Director of Downtown Operations, Kelly Rafferty.

The reaction was significant enough to take the matter to city council.

In May, council members approved $92,000 for larger LED bulbs that could be draped from the trees with the understanding that those previously purchased would not work.

"The kind of lights, they're real small. They're mini-lights they don't drape. They're so small so you need bigger lights to accomplish that," Rafferty said.

Rafferty reports a positive response to the new larger lights, that have left some wondering what happened to the $650,000 worth of lights that decorated the river last year.

"They're actually wrapped in different city parks, Main Plaza, Travis Park, Milam Park, La Villita, Market Square. They were re-purposed and reused for other activities downtown," Rafferty said.

The solution was a combination of tradition and progress that admittedly didn't come cheap.

"The cost of savings is really an aspect of it, really going green and becoming a leader in sustainability, that's the reason for the LEDs.

For a list of recent stories April Molina has done, click here.

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