Third annual Night of Lights attracts record crowd
Posted: 12/10/2001
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Featuring a live Posada, elementary school choirs, musical groups, a visit from Santa Claus, mariachis, fireworks and more, the third annual Night of Lights family event Saturday, Dec. 8 at The University of Texas-Pan American drew a record crowd of more than 8,000 people.

Children of all ages had a chance to visit and take photos with Mr. and Mrs. Claus during Night of Lights 2001.

The event featured performances from several Rio Grande Valley school choirs, and high school mariachi and jazz bands played holiday favorites. The fireworks show was synchronized to the recorded patriotic sounds of "God Bless the U.S.A." by country music star Lee Greenwood.

Night of Lights attracted more than just Valley residents. Winter Texans also came out and shared in the holiday festivities and celebration with their friends.

"It's just a wonderful atmosphere, and we love the tons of friendly people and nice weather down here," said Genie Edgar of Peoria, Ill., who participated in Night of Lights with her husband for the second consecutive year.

"We brought with us some RV park friends who we thought would love the wonderful music, food and fun. You know it's especially nice to sit and watch the young children. We have lots of grandchildren back home and we won't get to see them this Christmas because we've decided to spend it in the Valley."

This year's Night of Lights festivities included the reenactment of Joseph's and Mary's search for shelter during a live Posada.
A Christmas tree decorating contest held at the University produced three winners. UTPA Student Health Services finished first, followed by the Association of Information Technology Professionals and the UTPA Alumni Relations in second and third, respectively.

The Edinburg Chamber of Commerce also displayed four gingerbread houses.

Night of Lights is jointly sponsored by the City of Edinburg, the Edinburg Economic Development Corporation, the Edinburg Chamber of Commerce and UTPA.

With this year's event over, plans are already under way for next year, said Debby Grant, director of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving and Night of Lights coordinator.

"We're anticipating an even bigger and better Night of Lights event for 2002 when UTPA will celebrate its 75th anniversary," said Grant. "It's going to be great."