Steve buys the State Christmas ornament every year from the Capitol. This year we decided to make a lunch of it, and go to the Texas Chili Parlor for some chili, then over to get the ornament.

On the way there, we saw something peculiar, even by Austin's standards - a steady stream of people emerging from this building carrying tubas. We asked one what was going on, and were told, "Tubafest!" What is tubafest? Well, every year they get all these tuba (they let a few token sousaphones in too) players together and they gather on the steps of the Capitol and play Christmas carols.

These people have been living among us all year long, and we had no idea they were tuba players. Now when I walk down the street, I warily observe all the people I see. Are they tuba players too? Flautists perhaps? Or is it possible that there is a legion of OBOISTS lurking beneath the surface of society, ready to assemble and play the greatest hits of Elvis Presley on his birthday?

We conferred, and decided that we must eat quickly in order to get over to the tubafest in time.

Given that we ate so quickly, Mick (our marketing guy) was not able to have as many beers at lunch as he usually does. He wasn't upset, he said that it felt interesting to be "mildly buzzed."

The tubas were streaming towards the steps of the Capitol.

We turned the corner and were AMAZED at the size of the crowd assembled. So not only was our city full of tuba players, but there are also a large number of people that want to hear songs rendered in low frequencies.

It looks as if a number of Euphoniums have also snuck in. At this point I started thinking, "This isn't really tubafest, it's more like low-frequency-conical-bore-brass-wind-instrument-fest." Tubafest rolls off the tongue a little more easily, so I let it slide.

This guy's horn had two outlets. You know what that is right? We all learned this in second-grade music class, but I'll remind you - It's called a double horn, and it has a special thumb valve to allow the player to easily switch from playing deeper tones in F to higher ones in B-flat.

I wanted to know what it would be like to be surrounded by the tubas as they played "Silent night" so I crept up the stairs and got right in there.

I was literally immersed in the music. Notice this slacker below me though, not even playing!

One fun thing about photographing tuba players is that they can't tell you to go away. They're hands and mouths are fully occupied.

Check out this fellow - holding his music in one hand, and playing with the other!

Steve and Mick came up to also experience the majesty.

Here is the view looking south on Congress Ave.

The conductor.

We headed in to get the ornament.

The interior of the cupola.

This is the Christmas tree in the House chamber. Shitty focus, sorry.

The door hinges are cool.

We headed down to the gift shop. (Which I didn't even know existed...)

Floor inlay. I've never seen this before. Lorin said we can't duplicate it in our kitchen...

They were OUT of the ornaments! This year's featured the Goddess of Liberty, which is the lady up on top of the building there.

That's it, thanks for looking.