Tuesday, December 9, 2008


Austin has the Trail of Lights. We have the Templeton lights.

And if you think that’s not saying much, just let the sun set and then take a short drive to Driftwood. Hill Country holiday magic lies just down Ranch Road 12.

Judy and Bobbie Templeton have lived near Dripping Springs on Elder Hill Road in Driftwood for 35 years and, for the past 34 years, they have lit up their property every Christmas with an ever-growing holiday display. Now entailing at least 33,000 lights (conservative estimate) festooned across approximately 3 acres, the Templetons are once again spreading their Christmas joy.

Beginning around November 1st of each year, wife Judy starts wrapping trees, testing timers, and checking lights. The week before Thanksgiving, husband Bobbie takes a few days off work to run wiring and set up their burgeoning collection of lighted figures. Start to finish, the couple estimates it takes about 2 full weeks to get everything up and running. Just setting up the electricity takes a couple of days.

The Christmas light tradition began humbly enough in 1974, with Judy painting reindeer made from plywood Bobbie had cut with a jig saw. Simple spotlights were the only electrical concerns then. But, about 10 years ago at a garage sale, they purchased a couple of light-wrapped wire deer and the rest, as they say, is history. The Templetons try to add a new feature every year (to accommodate their holiday lights collection they’ve built dedicated storage rooms in their big barn). The new feature of this Christmas season is a 10 foot trellis with more than 1,200 lights flashing on and off to 20 different Christmas songs.

They make no money from their efforts (only spend it) and every year brings blown breakers and fuses and plotting an intricate maze of extension cords and time clocks (not that they’re complaining), so why do they it?

“We just want to wish everyone that passes on our country road a very merry Christmas and a happy new year,” says Judy. “We hope our lights bring them a smile.”

To see the magical display, driving from Dripping Springs, take RR 12 headed toward Wimberley. From the intersection of 290 and RR 12 it’s about 6 miles to Elder Hill Road (the Driftwood Vineyards turn off), take a left. Drive a couple of miles up Elder Hill Road. You’ll know it when you see it.

The Templetons keep the light display turned on every evening during the Christmas season from about 5:45PM to 10:00PM.

UPDATE: Judy wanted to make sure that the other spirited Driftwood folks get recognized. In "downtown" Driftwood, at the intersection of 150 and Elder Hill, just 1.5 miles from the Templeton home, the old Masonic Lodge built in 1924 (now Chic + Green) is done in lights and the Methodist church next door, built in 1884, has also turned out the Christmas spirit. From Dripping Springs, you can also get to Driftwood by taking RR 12 to FM 150. "Downtown" Driftwood is at the intersection of FM 150 and Elder Hill Road.