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Texas art contest winner gets tree lighting prize 40 years later

Dec. 2, 2013 at 6:28 PM

AUSTIN, Texas, Dec. 2 (UPI) -- A Texas man whose chance to light Austin's holiday tree was foiled by the 1973 energy crisis was given a second chance to flip the switch.

Jon Madani, 47, was awarded the chance to light the Zilker Holiday Tree in Austin's Zilker Park when he won a citywide art contest in 1973, but his prize was taken away when the tree lighting was canceled as a result of President Richard Nixon declaring an energy crisis, KXAN-TV, Austin, reported Monday.

"To my knowledge I'm the only winner of the contest who never got to light the tree," he said. "I'm an Austin native so every time I drive up and down Mopac and I see this tree it's a reminder of what I never really got to do."

However, Madani was belatedly given the honor of lighting the tree Sunday when the winners of this year's art contest heard about his story and invited him to join them.

"I would say it was fulfilling. Put it this way, we close chapters in our lives all the time, I can officially close the chapter on this," Madani said. "I can honestly say I think I appreciate it more at 47 than I would have at 7."

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