Tomorrow is Lights in the Heights, the best free holiday event in town.
Organizers are expecting in excess of 10,000 people for the 18th edition of Lights in the Heights, the Woodland Heights Civic Association's annual holiday street party. Festivities from 6-9 p.m. include porch parties, music and plenty of people watching.
"It's become very large," event co-chair Sharon Greiff said. "It's not unruly or anything like that, but we welcome everyone. We're the best free party that Houston has got to offer."
Bur Greiff does offer some advice for anyone who wants to come to the event, which will rnu along the streets of Bayland and Highland.
"Get there early," she said, "because even though we have traffic control, street closures and off-duty police, the traffic is just mind-boggling and the parking is even worse."
Greiff 's enthusiasm for the event, which sheis cochairing the event with Terri Guerra for the second consecutive year, is almost palpable.
"We'll kick off the event with Santa leading the mini parade from Florence to the Norhill Esplanade. And hopefully we'll have a fire truck, that is if there are no fires. Obviously, they might have things to do, so that's tentative," Greiff said.
"We've also got the carriage rides back, as well as pictures with Santa."
The streets will feature no shortage of performers, all lined up by entertainment captain Dana Loudon. Greiff said that at last count there were 16 porches on Highland hosting performers and 14 on Bayland.
"There will be at least 30 different entertainment venues, with entertainment on each block," she said. "We have everything from belly dancers to fire spinners, karaoke, rock bands, a traditional choir, bell choir, four-piece blues band, dancers, all sorts of stuff. We will try to post the entertainment and the where and when on the Web site, but often that's a last minute deal."
Among the performers is Norhill native and Berklee College of Music alumna Sarah Sharp, who will be performing free beginning at 6:30 p.m. at the home of Peggy Sparks at the corner of Byrne and Florence, just a few blocks off the main route.
Also, all entertainment sites will be equipped with free cookies to hand out, thanks to "cookie king" Ken Stefano. Greiff said that Stefano has collected more than 5,000 cookies made and donated by Woodland Heights residents.
If you want to get a jumpstart on checking out the decorations, minus the crowd of 10,000, drive around the Woodland Heights Friday night. Houses in the neighborhood will be judged then for the decoration contests, which include homes both on and off the event route.
And finally, houses in the neighborhood will be decked out with thousands of luminaria.
"You just can't have enough lights at Lights in the Heights," Greiff said.
One more thing:
One additional point that Greiff said is that while this event is free for anyone to enjoy, it is not free to put on. Street closure permits, off duty police officers, luminaria etc. all cost money. The Woodland Heights Civic Association is attempting to help defray these costs with T-shirt sales and through donations. Through the event, T-shirts will be onsale at: Buchanan's Native Plants, 611 E. 11th Street; C & D Hardware, 314 E. 11th Street; Olive Anne, 237 W. 19th Street; Aunt Mike's, 3320 White Oak Drive; Retropolis, 321 W. 19th Street; Jubilee, 321 W. 19th Street; and Oo-la-la 833 Studewood. And of course, shirts will be on sale at the event itself.
"The T-shirt booths will be on the esplanade and somewhere on Bayland," Greiff said. "So if you enjoy this event, and who doesn't, please consider helping out some. We don't advertise it and we don't take corporate sponsors. This is just something we do in our little neighborhood, so any help is greatly appreciated, believe me."