Published by expressnews.com
Written by: Liz Teitz, Staff writer
Japanese drummers and samba and flamenco dancers took the stage Saturday night in San Pedro Creek Culture Park, performing as the creek flowed behind them.
Lights projected snowflakes on to the waterfall behind the stage, while poles lining the river were illuminated by strands of green, orange and blue lights, as Illume: Making Spirits Bright lived up to the expectation of brightening a quiet section of the creek.
The event was the first holiday festival held at the park, and drew a crowd that bundled up against the cold to enjoy the cultural performances, food trucks and lights.
The first segment of the park opened in May, and more phases of development are planned along the waterway on the western edge of downtown. It’s expected to ultimately stretch more than two miles.
“Luminescence,” a temporary art installation in the creek, began Saturday night and will remain through the holiday season in the park.
Colorful fish appeared to skim across the surface of the water, as the art display uses strands of color-changing LED lights to illuminate the creek.
Amanda Cardoza said she and her family were at the park for the first time, and enjoyed the festive lights.
“It feels like the tourists haven’t figured this out,” she said, making it a less crowded way to take in Christmas lights along the water than other parts of the river. The decorations provided a good place to take Christmas pictures, she added.
Many people stopped to pose for pictures or take selfies in front of large, bright letters reading “Illume,” with the city’s skyline in the distance.
Others lined up for drinks from the Christopher Columbus Italian Society’s beer and wine garden, or ordered food from trucks and stalls offering cuisine ranging from sushi to South African.
“Hot chocolate is flying off the shelves,” said vendor Veronica Sandoval, who also sold buñuelos from her booth at the festival.
“I’m excited for the lights,” she said, as well as the mural and other art installations along the shore. “I love this part of the river.”
The San Antonio River Authority, which manages the park project, is focused on bringing cultural programming to the park, Brand and Communications Officer Gloria Carmona said.
Saturday’s event was designed to offer “more of a traditional holiday feel” than some of the other events hosted at the park so far, with the same emphasis on highlighting performers and food vendors from diverse backgrounds.
While the cold may have dampened turnout, there will be two more holiday events later this month, she said.
On Dec. 11, Teokalli Aztec Dancers will perform and food from the Tehuan Band of Mission Indians will be available, followed by a performance from Conjunto Puro Corazon and tamales from Granny’s Tamales on Dec. 18.