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The University Star




The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

The Student News Site of Texas State University

The University Star

Sights & Sounds returns to San Marcos to celebrate holiday season

Festival+goers+walk+through+the+light-filled+bridge+at+the+Sights+%26amp%3B+Sounds+of+Christmas+festival+December+2017.

Festival goers walk through the light-filled bridge at the Sights & Sounds of Christmas festival December 2017.

The holiday spirit is returning to San Marcos’ City Park this December with carnival games, a petting zoo and a holiday trail as the city prepares to celebrate the winter season at the annual Sights & Sounds of Christmas Festival.
The Sights & Sounds Festival was founded in 1987 and has since then strived to provide holiday festivities to San Marcos and the surrounding community. This year the festival will take place Dec. 2-4 and Dec. 9-11 from 5:30-11 p.m.
Catherine Marler, a Sights & Sounds board member, first volunteered for the event when she was a student at Texas State. Since then, she has served as the volunteer coordinator and secretary and now continues to serve as a board member by assisting with general management. She said she’s excited to see the community come together again in person after the festival was canceled last year due to the pandemic.
“Unfortunately, we were unable to host the festival last year,” Marler said. “With the support of the City of San Marcos and our sponsors we were able to decorate the park but did not have the opportunity to host the event in its normal capacity. We are very excited to bring the festival back this year.”
Claudia Cruz Hidrogo, the festival’s volunteer coordinator, said there have been some setbacks during this year’s planning. The festival is looking for volunteers and vendors now more than ever to help fill in the missing gaps.
“It’s a little rough coming back after that whole year sabbatical,” Cruz Hidrogo said. “We have seen some deficiency in some areas, not so much in others. We have changed a few things over the years just to better suit the community and what was going to bring out more donations for the nonprofits that work for us. So, it’s just been a little bit different.”
The Sights & Sounds Foundation is a charity dedicated to planning and executing the Sights & Sounds of Christmas Festival in San Marcos every year. The foundation helps other local nonprofit organizations raise money and has raised over $300,000 in the last three years.
The various nonprofits work as vendors for the event by selling funnel cake, kettle corn, hot chocolate and more. Many of these vendors have been struggling due to the significant loss of income after being unable to raise money last year. With the start of the festival just days away, the foundation is hoping to help these vendors earn more money after last year’s setback.
Members of the Sights & Sounds Foundation ensure that every aspect of the festival runs smoothly, including Santa’s Jingle Bell 5K Run, a race established over a decade ago by Brian Olson, the past Sights & Sounds president.
The run includes a kids’ version called the Kids K which runs through the Sights & Sounds Festival and a general race that runs through San Marcos’ historic district and downtown. This year the 5K run will start at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Dec. 11 in San Marcos Plaza Park.
Matthew Worthington, a committee member for Santa’s Jingle Bell 5K Run, said he expects over 1,000 runners this year.
“Just being able to get the community back out for this festive run again is really exciting,” Worthington said. “We have had so many families reach out in excitement as this is their Christmas tradition.”
Another part of the 5K run event is the Best Santa Award which is given to runners and race coordinators. This award features raffle prizes which a select few can win. This year’s prize is a new TV.
“It’s not a super technical judging but being festive and all that we try to give them a prize,” Worthington said. “It’s just for fun and to make it all more festive.”
The festival’s participating sponsors help events like the annual run happen, providing something for everyone to enjoy. This year’s sponsors include Christus Santa Rosa Hospital of San Marcos, Lions International, McCoys Building Supply and more.
“We couldn’t host this event without the support of the City of San Marcos and all of our wonderful sponsors,” Marler said. “We are thrilled to share the magic of the holidays with our community.”
Volunteers also make the festival possible by helping with things like concessions, entry gates, the scavenger hunt and more. Cruz Hidrogo said that it’s no easy feat to organize and manage all of the volunteers.
“It does take a lot of volunteers to at least make it work. It does become difficult whenever there are some days where I have a deficiency in some areas and some shifts,” Cruz Hidrogo said. “It does get a little harder, so it’s like I’m having to pull some magic out of my sleeves. But that’s the normal thing that we experience every year and not a lot of people see that.”
Cruz Hidrogo advises future volunteers to be flexible due to possible moving shifts. She adds first-time volunteers wanting to dip their toes in should try volunteering for drinks and concessions first. Volunteer registration is available on the Sights and Sounds website.
Cruz Hidrogo said she is excited to have the community back together to celebrate the holidays with a San Marcos tradition after its cancelation last year.
“After the whole pandemic there was a lot of questions if we were going to come back this year from the community,” Cruz Hidrogo said. “We’re happy to say that we are going to be here this year. It’s great to see that the community is as excited as we are to be back.”
To learn more about the Sights & Sounds of Christmas Festival, visit its website or its Facebook page @sightsandsoundstexas.

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