My favorite holiday tradition centers on three things: my family, holiday lights, and photography. My sister and I get together every year and visit our favorite holiday locations to take photographs of both the decorations and of each other. Some years we have our young nephew with us, and he’s quite a willing participant, but most years it’s just the two of us finding new ways to have fun at places we’ve been visiting our whole lives.
My favorite place to take holiday photographs is Welhausen Park, located in Shiner, Texas. My family has long-standing ties to this small town; my grandparents lived in Shiner, and my brother and I were both born in the now defunct Shiner Hospital.
Welhausen Park is beautifully decorated with lights during the holidays. The one-block park is located near downtown Shiner, and includes a children’s play area and a historic bandstand. The bandstand and the street lamps throughout the park are decorated with garland, lights and red ribbon, and the trees are strung with lights. There are also lighted displays that bring out the inner child of this 30-year old.
A recent addition to our annual holiday adventure is the Spoetzl Brewery, located a few miles north of Welhausen Park. The brewery produces many varieties of Shiner Beer, well-known in the state and gaining recognition throughout the country, and is my brand of choice. During the holidays the roof is lit and a lighted tree stands in front of the brewery. While the decorations are sparse, the location still ranks as a must-see place.
The next stop is the Lavaca County Courthouse, located in Hallettsville, Texas. On the Saturday following Thanksgiving, the community comes together to begin the annual Festival of Lights tradition. The building and grounds are decorated with thousands of lights, amplifying the beauty of the historic courthouse. A celebration is held the day of the first lighting, including craft and food vendors and a visit from Santa Claus during the day, and the courthouse lighting, a kiddie parade and lighted parade in the evening. A Christmas pageant is performed on the courthouse square both nights of the opening weekend.
The final stop is also a recent addition to our holiday tradition. On the way back to our family home, my sister and I stop at the Moravia Store, located between Hallettsville and Schulenburg. The store, a dancehall and bar, displays a wooden cut out of Santa Claus with the phrase “silent night, holy night” written in Czech. Stopping by this simple cut-out seems to be an appropriate way to celebrate our heritage at the end of our traditional holiday activity.
For more information:
Shiner, TX website
Hallettsville, TX website
The Moravia Store