Hallettsville Festival of Lights kicks off holiday season

Jessica  Rodrigo By Jessica Rodrigo

Nov. 13, 2012 at 5:13 a.m.

Hallettsville's Festival of Lights is a two-day celebration that marks the start of the holiday season.

Hallettsville's Festival of Lights is a two-day celebration that marks the start of the holiday season.

Wanting to do something for the children of Lavaca County during the holidays, Anna and Daniel Klekar set out to unite the community with an event that would shine light on the Christmas season.

The Festival of Lights has been a Hallettsville tradition for 15 years and is continuing to shine bright.

And despite its name, it has more than just lights.

The first day of the festival is dedicated to the lighting of the courthouse, a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus, a lighted parade and Christmas pageant.

On Nov. 24, the whole square will be closed and set up with 80 to 100 vendors from around the area selling their share of arts and crafts and various foods. Mr. and Mrs. Claus will have an area to visit with children. A seating area will be provided for the Christmas pageant.

Before the "Life of Christ" play begins Saturday, the lights on the square will be turned on. The courthouse will be adorned with strands of more than 300,000 white lights from top to bottom.

The fence surrounding the building will be complete with garlands. Strings of lights will stretch from the top of the courthouse to the buildings surrounding the square.

Not willing to say goodbye to the tradition, Jean Schaefer and her husband, Roy, took over as coordinators for the Festival of Lights in 2004, when the Klekars sought less responsibility of the festival. Jean Schaefer said the Klekars are still very active in the festival by helping with lights and making sure everything is ready for the public.

"It's beautiful. It's the most prettiest thing," she said.

As coordinators, the Schaefers have been busy checking the bulbs, putting up lights, signing up people for the parade and organizing the Christmas pageant for the past eight years.

Volunteer Jim Jakubek and Roy Schaefer will check the lights and replace bulbs or strands that are no longer working up until the time they are hung on the square. Together, the two men may spend up to 200 man-hours decorating the courthouse to make sure everything is ready the weekend after Thanksgiving.

"It's all a labor of love," Jakubek said. "We love the compliments we get for it. It's all worth it."

Jakubek said the plaza will fill up with 2,000 to 3,000 guests who come to watch the play and see all the lights come on. And once the lights are turned on, they stay on until Jan. 6.

Both Schaefer and Jakubek agreed that the Christmas pageant is their favorite part of the Festival of Lights.

"After the pageant, it makes it feel final, like the holidays are starting," Schaefer said.

Jakubek said he has never missed a single play since it started in 1997.

"The pageant is my Christmas every year," he said. "It's just so touching. It's the true meaning of Christmas, the birth of our Lord."



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