Continuing the Tradition

It's a tradition that's been a part of Houston for over 90 years. The mayor's holiday celebration downtown is a time for citizens to help ring in the season. It includes the lighting of the official holiday tree followed by a fireworks display. Pat Hernandez has more.

While the weather for the event then will be more in line with December, young violinists from Parker Elementary did the best they could to provide a festive atmosphere , despite the unseasonably balmy conditions during the press
announcement. The center of attention is a towering 70-foot white fir tree that is being powered by energy efficient LED lights from Reliant Energy. President Jason Few recommends changing out your Christmas tree lights with them.

Jason Few
Jason Few, President of Reliant Energy

"You cut your cost probably in about half with LED lighting, and the good news is that it's also a very safe way to light your tree, which we think is equally as important as being energy efficient."

While she's participated in lighting ceremonies before as councilmember and controller, this year's event will mark the first for Annise Parker as mayor. She hopes she can create a Christmas tradition with the city.

"Part of that is the great entertainment. Part of that is an annual toy drive, so that it's not just about us. It's about giving. It's about remembering the spirit of the season and all of that coming together in one night, where we can help launch for everyone, what we hope will be a wonderful holiday season."

The entire event is underwritten by corporations, and with no taxpayer dollars spent. I asked Mayor Parker if the call for gift giving to less fortunate Houstonians made the city's current budget woes seem surmountable.

"I've been cutting the city budget since I came into office. Many of the corporations that support our public events like the annual Holiday Tree Lighting are cutting back, but there are still opportunities for people who can reach out and help those less fortunate, and we want to remind people of that."

students from HISD’s Parker Elementary, called Parker Performing Strings
Music provided by students from HISD’s Parker Elementary, called Parker Performing Strings.

One department that works tirelessly on promoting the city is the Mayor's Office of Special Events. Susan Christian says she realizes the show must go on, and that Mayor Parker can count on her and her staff to make it happen, despite economic challenges.

"Civic celebration helps build the spirit of a city, and so I just think that when you look at this 91 year tradition, and also knowing the mayor and her Houston roots, this is a very special show for her."

The Mayor's Holiday Celebration will be held at city hall Friday, December 3rd beginning at 6pm. You can find more information by going to www.houstonspecialevents.org.

Bio photo of Pat Hernandez

Pat Hernandez

Reporter

Pat Hernandez is a general assignments reporter who joined the KUHF news staff in February of 2008...