‘Light the Way’ festival gets ready to roll

By Renee Muñiz

Following up on last year’s festival format for the annual “Light the Way celebration,” the University of the Incarnate Word has been working out the kinks for the Nov. 17 edition.

Until last year’s festival layout, the community-centered event had been in existence for more than 30 years as a “concert series,” said Ashley Davis, special events coordinator for the Office of Communications and Marketing.

“Partially from my own knowledge and partially from feedback given from Campus Engagement, we wanted it to be something for our community to look forward to, mark their calendar, and own as a campus,” said Davis, a UIW alum.

Campus Engagement reported students continuously felt crowded and and on-campus students would move off-campus for the night during Light the Way in the past, Davis said.

“It had become something that wasn’t well-attended by our community and we really want our community to see this as their event,” she said.

Following the new layout, UIW received more positive than negative feedback. Even those who performed on the football field of Gayle and Tom Benson Stadium were accepting of the new format.

Davis said the performers were ready to “breathe more life into this.”

Davis and her team also attended student orientations this summer to invite incoming students and families to the UIW tradition.

In the past, activities began at dusk. This year, the celebration starts at 3 p.m. The earlier start allows guests to enjoy the approximate 50 vendors planning to participate, nearly double from last year, Davis said. Vendors will include mostly local businesses with diverse products such as beauty and cosmetic, jewelry, clothing, arts and crafts, food, kettle corn and popsicles.

“Some of them sold out early (last year) and left,” said Davis. “Now, we let our vendors know what to expect, to stay for the entirety.”

Additionally, Davis said a 3 p.m. start would accommodate families who come earlier and leave earlier, as well as ease the need for parking. This year, there will be a drop-off spot for Uber and Lyft customers.

Food trucks will also be available until 9. Sponsored by the San Antonio Food Truck Association, the festival will have Cheesy Jane’s, Saweet Cupcakes, Berbere Ethiopian Cuisine, Fajita Rita’s and other diverse foods for purchase.

The night program will be hosted by Steve Spriester, anchor for KSAT 12. Santa Claus will be another well-known figure to look for in the Student Engagement Center taking exclusive photos with alumni from 3 to 5. Red, the Cardinal mascot, also will be in the same area taking photos with alumni and guests.

Guests are invited to bring a gift for the Elf Louise Christmas Project, “dedicated to providing a little bit of joy to Bexar County’s less-fortunate children,” according to the Elf Louise website. These will be placed under the large Christmas tree in the SEC.

Now that the first year of the festival’s redesign has gone by, Davis has been working on spreading the information for this year’s event, specifically to students.

“We encouraged them to see it almost as a second homecoming,” said Davis. “Ten thousand people were interested on Facebook on the day of the event last year. This year there are 29,000 people interested on Facebook” with two weeks left.

Davis said volunteers are still being accepted for the day, and if interested, to contact her office.

“Light the Way becomes what you want it to be,” said Davis.

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