AZLE — There was something for everyone at the 2024 Project Graduation Christmas Market Dec. 9. Vendors gathered throughout Azle High School to sell their wares in an effort to raise money for a yearly party for seniors that aims to reduce drunk driving and other unsafe activities on graduation night.
“We’re having a great session here,” Larry Marx, Project Graduation 2024 volunteer and parent, said. “We’re raising money for Project Graduation 2024. As you can see, we have quite a few customers coming and going and were making some sales. Now the sales don’t go to benefit Project Graduation — it’s actually the rentals of the booths. There’s a few places like right here where I’m taking pictures of people where that money is going to PG for 2024.
“My understanding is that it saves people’s lives, because you have these kids that like to party and this gives them a place to do it where they can’t drink and drive. If we raise enough money, then every graduating senior gets some of that money that’s left over and the next year they start all over,” Marx continued. “It’s definitely for a great cause. There are seniors that helped set this up and that will come back and tear down. So, I think they like the fact that they’re given this opportunity to have a really fun night, so they’re willing to help prepare for that.”
Marx said he expects his daughter, Rebecca Marx, will graduate as her class’ valedictorian.
This year’s Project Graduation goal is $25,000. Drivers under the age of 21 represent less than 10 percent of total drivers in Texas but account for 14% of crashes involving alcohol consumption, according to a recent survey by the Centers for Disease Control. In Texas, the number of teens that admitted to drinking and driving is nearly 13%. A recent Forbes Advisor report ranked Texas the third worst state for drunk driving in 2023 with the third-highest rate of underage drunk drivers involved in fatal crashes. According to the report, almost 42% of all traffic deaths in the state are due to drunk driving. High school seniors can face confinement in jail up to 180 days if convicted of a DWI, along with license suspension and fines up to $2,000 in addition to any court or probation costs.