San Antonio shows off new River Walk LED holiday lights

Submitted by Joe Ruiz on November 18, 2011 - 12:42pm

They're definitely bright. And there are a lot more of them.

A week before the city gets its first complete look at the new LED lights adorning trees along the San Antonio River Walk, members of the media were given a sneak peek of the new lights as a few trees were turned on for a quick river tour.

People who've seen the lights in previous years will immediately notice the lights no longer dangle from the trees, but are wrapped around. You'll also notice the lights are much brighter. On closer inspection, they're a bit smaller than your standard incandescent lights. Also, there's a million more lights, and that's not an exaggeration.

The city replaced the approximately 85,000 multicolored incandescent lights with about 1.76 million multicolored LED lights. The move, approved by the City Council this summer, will allow the city to save about half the costs to light the River Walk than previous years. The lights also won't have to be replaced as frequently, according to city staff. Previously, the lights were replaced annually. The new LED lights should last about 10 years, they said, and save about 33,000 kilowatt-hours of energy each season. Mayor Julian Castro said that's about half  of a previous year's usage. Update, 2:32 p.m., Nov. 28: Before I left for vacation, I asked the people over at Champion AC about how much energy 33,000 kWh would save. According to Albert and Dale, the average home uses 3.7 kWh each month, so that's about 9,000 homes worth of energy saved with the new lights.

The new lights make their official debut at 7 p.m., the day after Thanksgiving with the Holiday River Parade and Tree Lighting. The lights will remain turned on until Jan. 1. Tickets for the parade are available at the San Antonio River Walk's website.