This year, the Festival of Lights in Hallettsville, which was planned for Nov. 28, was canceled because of the pandemic. However, the courthouse still will be decorated for all to enjoy. 

“We can’t do anything about it, and we don’t want to put anyone in jeopardy,” said Monsignor John Peters, pastor of Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Hallettsville who helped start the event in 1997.

The courthouse will be decorated with 300,000 lights, and the lights will be turned on at the usual time, about 6 p.m. Nov. 28. They will stay up until Jan. 6. Christmas music will be played around the square all day and into the night during this time.

Visitors can arrive early for dinner and shopping on the square and around town. Sweet Chic Boutique, House of LC and Saved by Grace are a few of the shops on the square while Beauty Boutique, the Vintage Market-Hallettsville and Found are some of the shops around town. Hallet Oak Gallery and Cole Theater are also located on the square, and the Lavaca Historical Museum is about 1 mile from downtown.

Kountry Bakery, Jalisco’s and Cabo San Lucas Mexican Grill are a few of the dining options.

“We have signs that read ‘faith,’ ‘hope,’ ‘joy’ and ‘love’ helping us to understand what Christmas is about,” Peters said. “It’s about getting really prepared, and it will definitely be missed this year. Hopefully, next year, things will be back to normal again. Right now, we’re just considering the safety of everyone.”

Normally, the festival would be bustling with thousands of people perusing wares at booths around the square while children visit with Santa Claus. At 6 p.m., an opening prayer would kick off the lighting of the Lavaca County Courthouse. A kiddie parade, lighted parade and pageant of the life of Christ would follow.

“It has always been well attended with at least a couple of thousand people,” Peters said. “The square would be full. It was just a good way to get set for Christmas, to get in the proper spirit.”

Anna and Daniel Klekar’s “visionary aspiration and imaginative dream” inspired the event, which they began planning in 1996. The planning began by designing the lighting and courthouse decorations around an 1890s theme.

The first lighting happened on the 100th birthday of the Lavaca County Courthouse in 1997.

“The creation of the Festival of Lights was to manifest to all the world that Jesus Christ is the light of the world, and we need to keep God in our country,” Anna Klekar said.

Klekar feels the festival is a gift of love from all the volunteers who make it happen. They offer their “chain of love” to Jesus Christ and all children, she said.

Elena Anita Watts covers arts, culture and entertainment for the Victoria Advocate. 

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