Windcrest is famous for its Christmas displays. It started with one woman’s idea and a few strands of lights.

Barbee Winn, one of the original developers of Windcrest, thought some lights could spread the word about a brand new neighborhood. She was right.

WINDCREST, Texas – Zooming through the interchange at Loop 410 and I-35 on the Northeast Side, you could miss it if you’re not paying attention: the City of Windcrest.

But not during the holiday season.

And definitely not after dark.

“Mother came up with the idea,” said Tom Winn, who lives in the city that his parents, Murray and Barbee Winn, developed.

“She would hold a stick and he would look through the survey instrument and get the lay of the land and put the streets there and then started building houses,” said Winn, who was a teenager at the time.

The first house was built in 1954 in the fledgling neighborhood that, five years later, became its own city.

The first house sold for roughly $9,000, Winn remembers.

“We were so far out of San Antonio that San Antonio Savings & Loan, who wrote most of the mortgages in San Antonio at the time, wouldn’t loan money this far out of town,” said Winn.

Barbee Winn came up with a plan to get more people interested in living in Windcrest.

“Why don’t we buy some Christmas lights and put them on? And give them to each one of the homeowners and they would light up and then we would advertise, ‘Come see the lights of Windcrest,’” Winn recalls his mother saying. “This was in about 1956, ‘57, ‘58.”

It was a spark that nearly 70 years later still shines brighter than anyone back then could have dreamed.

Anyone except, perhaps, Barbee Winn.

Tom Winn drove his mother around the neighborhood to see the lights when she was in her late 90s.

Windcrest city streets were packed with thousands of other Christmas-spirit-seekers looking at the elaborate light displays.

The lights were impressive that year, Winn recalls, but his mother wasn’t surprised how their popularity had grown.

“She was kind of like, ‘I told you so,’” he laughed.

Today, the city of Windcrest, home to about 6,000 people, holds a Light Up contest with 11 categories for winners.

In recent years, one of the homeowners even won a $50,000 prize on ABC’s ‘Great Christmas Light Fight.’

Barricades pop up on what are normally quiet neighborhood streets to help the flow of traffic.

Maps of the city can be picked up at the Windcrest fire station to help drivers navigate their way to the best displays.

Barbee Winn lived to be 100 years old.

Before her death in 2017, she decorated her walker — and herself — as the Energizer Bunny for what was her final birthday celebration.

Now, what keeps ‘going and going’ is the Light Up legacy she created in the City of Windcrest.

“It was something for her to see,” said Winn.

About the Authors

Myra Arthur is passionate about San Antonio and sharing its stories. She graduated high school in the Alamo City and always wanted to anchor and report in her hometown. Myra anchors KSAT News at 6:00 p.m. and hosts and reports for the streaming show, KSAT Explains. She joined KSAT in 2012 after anchoring and reporting in Waco and Corpus Christi.

Valerie Gomez is lead video editor and graphic artist for KSAT Explains. She began her career in 2014 and has been with KSAT since 2017. She helped create KSAT’s first digital-only newscast in 2018, and her work on KSAT Explains and various specials have earned her a Gracie Award from the Alliance for Women in Media and multiple Emmy nominations.

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