Greenleaf Cemetery Association board president Steve Harris didn’t mind the cold, wet and windy weather as he walked with others through a section of the old historic cemetery Friday morning.
The purpose of his outdoor venture: to talk about the upcoming Holiday Trail of Lights. It will be a driving tour through the cemetery that will allow visitors a chance to enjoy Christmas illumination provided by solar and LED lights, wreaths and other decorations and a Tunnel of Lights, provided by solar and LED lights.
There is no cover charge or entry fee, but donations will be appreciated. The purpose is to raise funds to buy a new mower before the mowing season begins, Harris said.
“It is a way families and the community can drive through and pay their respects” to those buried there, as well as helping the cemetery purchase “a much needed lawn mower,” Harris said.
This year’s edition will be the cemetery’s second Trail of Lights. The event will be from 6-8 p.m. the evenings of:
• Friday, Dec. 14
• Saturday, Dec. 15
• Friday, Dec. 21
• Saturday, Dec. 22
• Sunday, Dec. 23
“These guys are troopers, I’ll tell you,” Harris said, referring to the small groundskeeping staff that works through inclement weather.
“I didn’t know I was going to get a workout this morning,” Harris said in a nod to the brisk, chilly walk. “This is great. This actually feels very good.”
Visitors will enter through the main gate by Sterling Monuments, where they will be greeted by board members or volunteers. “Then they’ll just drive slowly and respectfully after they tune into KOXE (Radio), because KOXE has graciously agreed to do the music for us this year,” Harris said.
“And then hopefully they’ll drive into downtown, where many of the people who are buried out here are responsible for businesses and buildings they built.”
Visitors won’t have to leave their vehicles. “The only ones who are going to be the be the volunteers who are braving the cold and wind,” Harris said.
The event is totally paid for by donors and sponsors, Harris said.“We have no money to raise money,” Harris said. “Everything we do has to be sponsored so that there’s no cost to the cemetery.
“This is how we’ve been doing it for the last year. We’ve all been talking, communicating, facing the facts, working hard and reaching out, and the community has helped us out and continues to help us out.
“I believe it’s because they realize how important the cemetery is, not only to them personally, and even if it’s not personal, it is a community cemetery.”
While last year’s inaugural event was a success and drew a large turnout, the board is working to make improvements based on what organizers learned from last year. Harris said he hopes attendance this year will be doubled or tripled.
Promotions in local media as well as a mention in the “Texas Monthly” magazine are helping promote the event.
“This year’s going to be brighter than last year,” Harris said. “We got a grant from the Kohler Foundation for solar lights. We have triple the amount of solar lights from last year.
Harris said the goal is for the Tour of Lights to be the cemetery’s main fundraiser and “we won’t have to do as many fundraisers. We’re still moving forward, moving up.”