5 ways to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in Austin

5 ways to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11 in Austin

"9/11 Memorial" by Claude van Lingen
Artist Claude van Lingen honors the fallen with his art exhibition at Co-Lab Projects. Co-Lab Projects/Instagram

The 20th anniversary of the September 11 tragedy will be observed this Saturday. And though Patriot Day calls more for somber contemplation, remembrance, and paying tribute to those who fought and lost their lives that fateful day than for celebration, some Austin events are giving locals the opportunity to commemorate the occasion in a fitting manner.

Whether you’re making a memorial stair climb, taking an honor ride, or observing the day through artwork, please plan ahead and stay safe out there.

Patriot Day events in Austin

Memorial Tower Climb, Circuit of The Americas, 8 am-noon
In conjunction with the nonprofit Samaritan Center, Circuit of The Americas will host its Memorial Tower Climb on Saturday morning to honor and pay respect to the first responders who perished on 9/11.

Locals are invited to climb the stairs to the COTA Tower’s observation deck and back down four times to mimic the 110 floors in the World Trade Center’s twin towers. Austinites can even climb the 25-story-high COTA Tower as many times as they like.

The event is open to all ages and fitness levels. Registration is $30 and can be completed online. Registered participants will also receive a limited-edition poster memorializing the event. And the creative folks from Industry, a local artist-run print shop, will be screenprinting commemorative T-shirts live at the event that will be available for sale onsite.

COTA will donate funds from the sale of the T-shirts to the Samaritan Center, and all proceeds from the Tower Climb will also benefit the nonprofit, which provides mental health services for veterans, first responders, military, and their families.

“The Memorial Tower Climb is a challenge designed to honor and remember the American lives lost on 9/11. We will pay tribute to the first responders lost by climbing the equivalent of the 110 stories of the twin towers,” says Gonzalo Herrera, U.S. Marine Corps veteran and organizer of the event. “It is my personal belief that on September 11, one must go through a grueling challenge to honor those who can’t be here.”

9/11 Memorial Stair Climb, Hill Country Galleria, 7:46 am
Representatives from the Bee Cave Police, Lakeway Police, and Lake Travis Fire Rescue will gather at the Hill Country Galleria in Bee Cave for the annual 9/11 Memorial Stair Climb.

These first responders will climb the equivalent of the 110 stories of the World Trade Center to pay tribute to the fallen FDNY firefighters and first responders of September 11, 2001.

The climb begins at 7:46 am Saturday, at the exact time American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center. The climb will take place at the Hill Country Galleria’s parking garage A near Dillard’s, and the public is invited to attend the event and support local police and firefighter teams as they endure the challenge.

Memorial Mount Climb, Mount Bonnell
Though Bear Creek Performance Training’s annual memorial climbing event and fundraiser in honor of 9/11 has been canceled this year because of COVID-19, locals who wish to continue the long tradition of climbing Mount Bonnell’s 102 steps 44 times to simulate the number of stairs in the twin towers can still do so on their own.

After trudging up Mount Bonnell to the highest point in the city, at 775 feet, climbers will be rewarded with one of the best views in Austin, overlooking downtown and the Pennybacker Bridge. It’s an ideal spot to admire the lush city panorama while reflecting on the significance of the day.

Climbers can also keep the annual event’s fundraising dreams alive by donating to the same nonprofit organization that usually benefits from the event: Team Red, White & Blue, which works to enrich the lives of America’s veterans by connecting them to their community through physical and social activity.

The Mount Bonnell trail and stairs are free to access, and parking is available for free onsite.

Ride for the Badge Motorcycle Ride & Party, Cowboy Harley-Davidson of Austin, 8:30 am
Commemorate Patriot Day with a solemn yet beautiful motorcycle ride through the Hill Country.

The event kicks off in the morning at Cowboy Harley-Davison of Austin, at 10917 S. I-35, with a 9/11 tribute ceremony featuring a moment of silence, a presentation of the national anthem, and recognition of first responders, military members, and veterans. The tribute portion of the event is free and open to the public.

Bikers participating in the ride through the Hill Country and ending at Texas Ranger Heritage Center in Fredericksburg ($35 per rider) will also receive complimentary breakfast, a swag bag, a ride T-shirt, lunch at the heritage center, and one raffle ticket.

Kickstands go up at 10:45 am for the ride, and the commemorative party runs from noon-5 pm in Fredericksburg, and will include a raffle, vendors, live music, and bites. 

“9/11 Memorial: The 20 Year Anniversary,” Co-Lab Projects, 4 pm
Artist Claude van Lingen’s “9/11 Memorial” exhibit honors those who perished on September 11, 2001, in the World Trade Center, at the Pentagon, and in Pennsylvania, and pays homage to those who died in the ensuing conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The opening reception for the exhibit will take place from 4-10 pm at Co-Lab Projects, 5419 Glissman Rd., though the show runs through Saturday, September 18.

The exhibition is anchored by two large drawings that include the names of the 2,753 victims of the World Trade Center attacks, written one on top of the other in van Lingen’s signature style, creating a melange of shredded and torn paper that evokes images of the twin towers. Several other drawings also memorialize those lost on 9/11 and in the conflicts that followed.

Visitors can contribute their own artwork by writing the names of 9/11 victims on a large piece of paper and then signing and dating their action on another. The signatures will then be attached to the back of the artwork and framed.