When Vision Lampasas! committee members were looking for a way to inject new life into the annual Carol of Lights festival three years ago, committee member Janet Sievers saw the "light" - as in "Lighted Christmas Parade."
Even though Christmas is several weeks away, the Carol of Lights planning is already focusing on the 3rd Annual Windsor Foods Lighted Christmas Parade as the weekend's signature event in historic downtown Lampasas.
Slated for Saturday, December 3, the Carol of Lights kicks off the busy Christmas season for Lampasas, with multi-colored strands of lights illuminating the Lampasas County Courthouse square, museum displays, classic cars, as well as a Mrs. Santa House, and, of course, a visitor from the north Pole in the form of Santa Claus.
Sievers, who has now retired as a Windsor Foods employee and moved away from the area, still helps coordinate the parade. "I had seen other towns where a lighted parade seemed to work, and I just had a vision it could happen in Lampasas," Sievers reflected.
Vision Lampasas! chairperson Dianna Hodges and Courtyard Square Association member Jim Rutland are co-chairs of the annual event, and Hodges knew three years ago that the event needed a boost – some type of shot in the arm. When Windsor Foods, a local food manufacturing plant, offered to underwrite the parade, Hodges accepted Windsor's generous donation. In fact, several employees of the frozen food producer, located on the downtown square, particpate in the event, from designing and trimming a company parade float entry to helping with the children visiting Santa. He will be at the Windsor Foods lobby from 4pm to 6pm on Saturday afternoon, December 3.
One of Santa's helpers, Windsor employee Steve Havens, recalled how a child handed him a picture of a Christmas tree, and told him, "Here, I have a present for you." Havens remarked that the smile on the child's face made it all worthwhile.
Windsor Human Resources Manager Sue Cruz, who has been with Windsor twenty-one years, believes the friendly atmosphere of central Texas makes it a great place to live and work.
"Coming from California to Texas, it is amazing to walk down the street and people know your name, speak to you, and wave at you from their car," Cruz noted. She added that Windsor Foods thoroughy enjoys being involved in the community.
Windsor Foods of Lampasas employs 400 workers and produces 80 different Mexican frozen food items. The plant's main items include chimichangas, tacos, burritos, taquitos, and enchiladas. According to Kevin Lake, General Manager of the Lampasas operation, the plant produces sixty million pounds of product each year, with five production lines running on two eight-hour shifts. A graveyard shift is primarily focused on clean up and plant maintenance.
"We produce product for retail outlets with our main retail brand being Jose Ole. In addition, Windsor Foods produce private label brands, our own food service brands, and products for national food service chains," offered Lake. The company has eleven food manufacturing plants around the country producing Mexican, Italian, and Asian appetizer-type foods.
Other main attractions for the Carol of Lights December 3 weekend are the Town and Country Study Club Christmas Bazaar, held in the historic Lampasas County Courthouse; a classic car show; and ornament making and story time with Mrs. Santa Claus in the My Girls retail building on the square.
The Keystone Square Museum will host a gingerbread house display, Christmas tree display, and will again offer the Tour of Homes on Sunday, December 4 from 1pm to 5pm. Another new event, the Boot Scoot Jingle 5K Run, sponsored by Lampasas Independent School District, will begin at 10am on Saturday December 3 at the Boot Mural on Western Street. The event is a 5K run/walf for kids and adults of all ages. A $15 donation per family is requested.
So, in the familiar words of a song of the season... "it's beginning to look a lot like Christmas..."