Christmas Events in San Angelo, TX
San Angelo businessman Lee Pfluger is a self-proclaimed Christmas fanatic, and proves it in a big way every December.
The local philanthropist oversees the annual Concho Christmas Tour of Lights, an idea of his that began in 1995 with a small, static holiday lights display in downtown San Angelo in front of the Concho River. Today, Concho Christmas has evolved into a three-million-light spectacle illuminating the river bank that residents and tourists can enjoy via a 2.5-mile self-driving tour.
Highlights of the impressive nighttime show include displays titled The Twelve Days of Christmas and the “Tunnel of Lights.”
“I’ve always liked Santa Claus,” is Pfluger’s reason for initiating and staying involved all these years with the impressive display. “The core goal of this labor of love has been to enhance the quality of life for San Angelo’s citizens and to attract the cultural tourist to our community. I feel the goal has been achieved and then some.”
Thousands of Visitors
Concho Christmas, which annually attracts about 16,000 cars, begins on the first Friday night in December and runs through New Year’s Eve.
“Using a benchmark of approximately four individuals per automobile, we estimate more than 60,000 individuals annually witness the magical light display,” Pfluger says.
The cost of electricity to illuminate the event is nearly $100,000, defrayed thanks to corporate sponsors and a $4 donation per vehicle. Meanwhile, employees from 17 local companies volunteer their time to oversee the monthlong tour.
Adding to the holiday spirit, the driving tour ends at Fort Concho National Historic Landmark, which also hosts a Christmas celebration each December. On the first full weekend of the month, the historic fort, constructed in 1867, welcomes about 17,000 visitors to Christmas at Old Fort Concho, a three-day event.
Month Long Celebration
“While the Concho Christmas Tour of Lights lasts throughout the entire month of December, our holiday celebration takes place only during the first weekend,” says Bob Bluthardt, director of Fort Concho. “Christmas at Old Fort Concho has occurred since 1982, and it takes about 1,000 volunteers to stage all the holiday-related events. We’re all exhausted after that weekend.”
Fort Concho was first established to protect settlers during the Indian Wars period, but after the campaigns ended by the early 1880s, there was no more need for the multibuilding fort. It has since been used in a variety of ways, including for small homes, storehouses, hotels and even a mattress factory.
Eventually, preservationists began purchasing the buildings one by one, and today the City of San Angelo owns and oversees the historic site, 17 of whose 24 buildings date to the 1870’s.
“The fort attracts a grand total of 70,000 visitors each year, with 40 percent being out-of-towners,” says Cory Robinson, Fort Concho visitors and volunteer services coordinator. “Christmas at Old Fort Concho is our biggest annual moneymaker for this impressive landmark.”
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