In the midst of a muggy summer, the once-spectacular silk and metal lantern structures at Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque are fading before the eyes of Interstate 45 travelers.
Late last year, artists and festival organizers transformed Gulf Greyhound Park’s parking lot into a winter wonderland. They built huge silk and metal structures depicting scenes such as whales, planets and hot-air balloon collections for the Magical Winter Lights festival, which ran from November to January.
The structures were left in the parking lot because the festival’s organizers, People Generation, plan on hosting the event again in La Marque and wanted to use some of the material, said Sally Briggs, the park’s general manager.
Planners will return to La Marque’s Gulf Greyhound Park venue next month to begin setting up for this winter’s exhibit, which will likely run again from November to January, Briggs said this week.
“They signed an agreement with us last year before they left to come back, and we’re hoping it will become an annual event,” Briggs said. “We’re excited. It was really successful last year and a very good event for us.”
A spokeswoman for People Generation said the organization is busy preparing for the event and will not release information about this year’s festival for at least another month.
In recent weeks, residents have questioned why the looming structures remained, and some have quietly groaned that they create an eyesore along the area’s main thoroughfare, especially as the muggy weather takes its toll.
But La Marque residents also said they’re happy the festival is returning because it’s a boon to both the city and the dog track, 1000 FM 2004.
“Everyone who went just loved it and thought it was wonderful, and it’s a great draw for La Marque,” said Gwen Megale, past president of the Omega Bay Homeowners Association.
“I’m all in favor of them doing it, however, it does look a little pathetic out there right now.”
There should be a tent to hide the structures or they should be disassembled more to make them less visible from the interstate, Megale said.
Briggs allowed festival planners to leave the structures in the parking lot and said she has since let planners know the structures are weathering.
“We’ve let her know with the weather here that she was going to have some problems with the equipment, but they’ll be back next month to get it restored,” Briggs said.
Gulf Greyhound Park, the 210,000-square-foot building visible from Interstate 45, has been seeking other revenue sources since announcing the end of live dog racing there in 2015.
The park still offers simulcasting, during which gamblers sit at rows of small TVs and bet on races in other states.
The lantern festival was the first major event held there, and earlier this spring the park was the site of a large crawfish festival.