Lights in the Heights To Stay On, Just Turned Down a Bit

LIGHTS IN THE HEIGHTS TO STAY ON, JUST TURNED DOWN A BIT The esplanade and corner food trucks will be gone, the parade will be “de-emphasized,” and the police will be active at the next Lights in the Heights, according to a Woodland Heights Civic Association email received by Martin Hajovsky. According to some estimates, 50,000 people attended last year’s annual Christmas-y event. To assuage neighborhood concerns about possible vandalism, public drunkenness, and commercialization, the event will be held earlier in the evening and shortened by an hour as well. [Home in the Heights, via Hair Balls] Photo: Jason Tinder [license]

56 Comment

  • Worst news i’ve read all day. Thanks Heights for screwing yet another good thing up. Ridiculous. Lights in the Heights should be extended by two hours, and anyone who disagrees is LAME and SUCKS.

  • Good. I loved it before they made it into a party. Same as teh Uptown Lighting ceremony. I loved when it was just a nice family event. Christmas carol sing along, Nutcracker ballet scene. Then they added bands, fireworks (sorry, not Christmas) and the killer for me was the Second Baptist parade with VIP seating that terribly blocked the views for everybody else.

  • I’m so glad that this wonderful event will continue and my kids will be excited to hear the news. I also agree with the changes that are being made. My wife and I had agreed after last year that we would not continue going with the kids if it remained as is. That was too much like Washington Ave and the young singles were way too drunk and obnoxious. Clearing out the area earlier (8pm)is a step in the right direction. I hope it all works out and thanks again to everyone that makes this such a fun event.

  • I disagree that the drunks were that bad. However, last year seemed to explode in attendance. Most of the streets were gridlocked with pedestrians. I have never seen the look of panic in my dogs’ faces at the sheer crush of people, and I vowed never to take them into those crowds again. I have watched the progression of attendance over the years by how many cars parked on my street several blocks west of LITH. In 2004, there were virtually none. By last year, my street was so full that 2 way traffic was blocked.

    Lights In THe Heights is clearly a victim of its own success. I wish them luck in keeping it going.

  • As a resident I think this was sadly necessary.

    The drunks were only mildly annoying, but it was clear that the police presence was not keeping up with the crowds, and the potential for something to go very, very wrong was too serious to ignore.

    The people who run the event have also been complaining for years that they don’t get enough volunteers. It’s basically gotten too big for the neighborhood folks to run.

    So this seems like a good compromise: keep it going, but in a more manageable way.

  • I think I have attended EVERY Lights in the Heights, since it started. This is exactly what happens to communities when douches & yuppies invade!

  • Holy crap man. It’s ONE FREAKING NIGHT!!!! And till today, it’s been one of the only cool things Houston has going for it. If you don’t like it, go out of town. Get a hotel. The damn thing is over at 10:30 ANYWAY….yes, they clear the streets with cop cars and it is OVER. I HATE ALL OF YOU!!!!!

  • @SFP – I’ll bet a nickel you don’t live in Woodland Heights, much less on one of the LITH streets. With due respect, your sentiments multiplied by a few thousand of our closest friends who apparently agree with you are precisely why there is an issue. The Heights didn’t mess this up – a bunch of self absorbed idiots did.

  • SFP, I asumme then that you are going to step up to the plate and serve on the WH LITH committee! Great news! :-)

  • Just like the Westheimer Street Festival… RIP

  • @Houston1836 – I think they forgot to stock up on douche repellant last year.

  • @MOLLUSK. And you’d lose a nickel you dork. Lived on Woodland for 4 years pal, and on Omar for 3. Pretty sure one of those two has been on THE parade route for the last 8 years. BITE ME!!!

    Was there crime last year? Bunch of vandalism? I sure didn’t see any. Have 6 friends that live within two blocks of the parade and all had parties. No complaints from them.

    You’re self absorbed….and apparently ALLERGIC TO FUN.

  • sounds reasonable, why anyone would go to the heights expecting a party and good times is beyond me.

  • I was really concerned LITH was going to end up going away completely like the Heights Festival did. Large crowds, heavy drinking and gang activity ended that great, family-oriented festival.

    SFP, LITH started as a family/neighborhood event and should go back to that. If people want to party hard, there are plenty of other places to go. They can head to Washington Ave., or better yet, New Orleans for Mardi Gras. LITH is suppose to be a Christmas event for little kids. I live a few blocks north of the LITH route and couldn’t believe the cars and the crowds last year. It was way too much for any volunteer neighborhood group to handle.

  • I think Lights in the Heights is a nice neighborhood event and I am glad that it will continue. I think folks that like an adult beverage will have them regardless of when it begins or ends but if it makes everyone feel better then that is nice. I enjoy “people watching” and generally do so after a quick walk around I view all the fun from my home. Glad Lights in the Heights will remain a neighborhood staple event!

  • I have gone almost every year since its inception and my comments to friends in Houston and beyond have progressively changed as the event grew far beyond the initial neighborhood devotees. Like so many events in the city, growing pains into a massive citywide attraction is typically the death of anything held outside downtown or one of the major parks. The Heights is overloved these days for its uniqueness that is slowly ebbing away precisley because Houston lacks so few unique areas. Next up for possible extinction will be such events as White Linen Night for precisely the same reasons. Those who have no idea what it takes to put on such a neighborhood event w an all volunteer staff will continue to deride it as insufficient for their selfish needs.

  • Forgot to mention: Thanks to the neighborhood and all the volunteers for giving it another chance to continue.

  • Well, then, SFP, since you live in the neighborhood, I’ll join Mel and agree that the LITH committee will welcome your volunteering your efforts. I’ve served on the committee in years past and it can be quite worthwhile.

    And thanks for the kind offer, but I’ve already had lunch. Perhaps one of my dogs can accommodate you?

  • HAHA! The same debate is taking place in San Antonio, where merchants are locked in battle with the King William Association. Residents of this formerly run-down, now historical district,are complaining about “outsiders” invading their neighborhood for “First Friday”, “Artwalk”,etc.Parking problems, public urination, douche-baggery,blah blah blah.Check out the current issue of The San Antonio “Current”.

  • Also, people dumped their dogs in the neighborhood that night. We found a really sweet guy, a pitbull mix with a badly-healed broken leg, waiting on our porch the next morning. There were found dog signs all over the neighborhood the next week.

  • I’m sad to see the food trucks go, but I did think the parade seemed unnecessary. Hopefully this will just encourage more/larger after parties for the people that actually live in the neighborhood and their friends. I just hope there isn’t an overreaction and anyone with a beer gets ticketed. I thought the Esplanade area was a lot of fun with the bands and etc. Hopefully 2012 they can bring that part back. – woodland heights homeowner

  • The City is the one who drove the changes due to the fact a 911 call last year could not be answered in the required time. The event as it is has become what the City calls a Public Safety Issue. This is not about young vs old. We have teenagers getting drunk, people parking in emergency zones like in front of fire hydrants, and no access for emergency vehicles. WH will lose its street closure permit if something does not change. I live in WH and am often on the route and I can party like a ROCK STAR with the best. I too, however, don’t enjoy the event any longer because people who do not live in our neighborhood think it is ok to break the law. Its Christmas for gosh sakes and there are kids everywhere. Keep the drunken behavior in the bars.

  • My understanding was that the calls to reign in the event were not only from the neighborhood but also from the City. It is far better to control it now rather than let it grow unabated until it gets to the point that HPD say it is uncontrollable. Of course maybe I’m just getting old.

  • @Heights Weirdo…..your comments are probably the most ridiculous on this chain. Have you ever been?!?!!?!? Pretty obvious that DAMN NEAR EVERYONE THAT LIVES ON THE PARADE ROUTE wants to party….as so obviously evidenced by their throwing of parties and hiring of bands. Show me where LITH was supposed to be a Christmas Event for little kids? How do you know what to grab when pulling stuff out of your ass????

  • SFP, I’ve been every year since 2003, when I moved to the neighborhood. I have had parties. I have friends that have parties each year that we walk to. I have several friends who are awesome LITH volunteers. This event is for the kids to see the lights and for neighbors to have a few celebratory holiday drinks with friends. Over the last eight years the crowds have gotten bigger and bigger and way out of hand, as has the over-drinking by people who don’t live in the neighborhood (and who will be driving home). SFP, you can still party. It’s the gigantic crowds overwhelming your volunteer neighbors that needs to be reduced. Are you going to volunteer?

  • Woodland Heights kinda got what they asked for. This was originally a campy little neighborhood thing. But, residents started having bigger and bigger parties. People attending saw the parties and decided to party along. Organizers fanned the flames by being permissive with the boozing and turning the esplanade into a mini-concert venue. Add to that one port-a-potty for every two thousand people, a huge city that is starved for public events, and you have a big problem. But here is the solution:
    1. Two nights, one with parties, the other for families (Sat/Sun).
    2. Attendees must submit financial records verifying that they have not shopped at Walmart in the past six months
    3. Get bigger sponsorship dollars so you can do satellite parking/shuttles, bigger security presence to monitor parking and boozing, and more port-a-potties.
    4. Require each resident holding a private party to get a certificate of appropriateness from the HAHC, ensuring that the drinks and party decorations are period appropriate for the house and that the party is not out of scale with the other parties.

  • From the Woodland Heights website LITH page featuring photos of a festive baby and youngsters in a sleigh with family: “We recommend bringing a wagon to tote the kids….” I was always downtown with friends after the Heritage Society house tour that Saturday, so I’ve never gone, but I’ve always heard it touted as a “family event”. I have friends who do go, and they all have kids – the rest who wake up to cats & dogs on December 25th save it for the Bad Santa Bar Crawl on Christmas Eve.

  • There was a considerable amount of crime last year. We live one street over from the parade route and two of our friends were assaulted at gunpoint and sent to the hospital after walking two blocks to their house on Norhill at 11 pm. Theirs was among 6 assaults committed by the same 4 people that night.

  • I moved to the Woodland Heights the day of LITH in 1998, have attended all but one since, and met my wife at the one in 2002. I agree it had gotten way too big- I wouldn’t have planned to take my son any more if it was like last year. This is good news for the neighborhood, and hurts no one- whoever wants to have parties at their house still can, whoever wants to walk around and look at lights still can. What’s the problem? I hope it goes back to about 2003 levels and stays there.


  • As a longtime WH resident, I agree 100% with Old School.

  • The abandoned dogs must have come from the guy who set up a pen on the Norhill Esplanade (behind the stage) full of pits and pit-mixes. Guess when the event was over, he must have just pulled up stake and left the poor guys to defend for themselve. Must have been a GREAT liberation for these dogs. My immediate reaction was ‘why were there pitbulls(+mixes) at a neighborhood/family event?’

  • From anyone else Old School I would happily roll with the irony but for some reason I suspect you are only half joking. Personally I will be stringing lights again until the breakers start blowing.

    @SFP, I was under the impression that most people don’t hire the bands, they just agree to let them use their porches. The bands volunteer for the free publicity. At least that has been my experience. If you want a drinkfest, go to a bar. HPD will only continue to tolerate our drinking whilst walking as long as it is in moderation. If it gets stomped on because a small minority can’t handle moderation I am going to be pissed.

  • SFP, what’s with the anger and hostility? Like Mollusk and Sally, I have served on the LITH committee in years’ past and it never ceases to amaze me how much monday morning quarterbacking goes on. It’s about time that you and your belly aching ilk step up to the plate and contribute. Hosting a party or donating your porch is not enough. I want to see YOU serve on an actual committee, shovel sand, decorate old people’s houses, bake some damned cookies and contribute some real sweat to this event that you apparently cherish enough to incite the hate (“I HATE ALL OF YOU”) and violence (“BITE ME”) you have expressed towards your neighbors. Hugs and Kisses!

  • Jimbo, you are correct. There are a few people who go out on their own and hire a band for the night. For the super majority, however, a volunteer begs people up and down the route to volunteer their porches and electricity and yet another volunteer begs local entertainers to volunteer their time and talents, and then yet another volunteer matches said porches to said entertainers. Putting this event on takes a lot of work. I really admire the two people I know of who chaired this event over the past 8 years. Same goes for the awesome people who chaired the home tour and the centennial events.

  • I’ll volunteer if they agree to extend the event by an hour.

    Bake cookies? I’ll carve a naked lady out of a block of ice and pour liquor down her chest into your mouth instead…..pfftt, cookies.

  • Ellie Mae, so that’s where he came from! I never made it down all the way to the esplanade due to the crowds. That Sunday was a horrible day. We gave the poor guy that came to our house water, headed inside to see if there was a rescue group online (because a lot of places “dispose” of pitbulls). We didn’t bring him in because our dogs were freaked out with all that was going on. We didn’t know our neighbor had already called the pound earlier and they picked him up before we could go back out to get him. I’m still upset with our neighbor and mad at myself for not putting him in the backyard.

  • @ Mel….I’m only belly aching at your belly aching….they cancel each other out. BOOM

  • I know a family on Omar that’s been there over 20 years. She says it started out just being a few houses that were really well lit and decorated, then folks would walk the streets with their kids, looking at the lights and sometimes stop to talk to neighbors on their porches.

    More houses would be lit the next year. It grew and the neighborhood embraced it.

    Then it started getting publicized. The neighborhood embraced that too….at first.

    Now, too much publicity. Too much exposure. Too many people….like SFP who want to party down and forget about the kids.

    They could put the whole thing on hold for 3-4 years. Give the party goers time to find another destination, then start LITH again around 2015.

  • SFP, but I am bellyaching about you. So, inverse-boom! Anyway, I look forward to seeing this naked lady ice sculpture you mentioned!

  • I wanna see the nekkit lady ice sculpture, too, but no, you may not borrow my router to make it. BTW, I know Sally, and she CAN party like a rock star – I’ve participated in that process with her, and somehow made it home anyway.
    BTW, SFP, the doggies are getting kinda hungry – I guess you’re not going to transfer your earlier invitation to them?

  • “4. Require each resident holding a private party to get a certificate of appropriateness from the HAHC, ensuring that the drinks and party decorations are period appropriate for the house and that the party is not out of scale with the other parties.”


    Original Coke with the cocaine in it!!! Excellent!

  • If the heights and folks that throw the party want to change it that is obviously fine, but dont say its because of the kids Why would children still be out at 10:30, especially if their parents with them have been boozing.

    I think it’s too bad they are changing it because other parts of the city like to show off for their fellow citizens (Pride, christmas lights in RO). I would have thought the heights would have done the same.

  • Lights in the Heights used to be for us who live in the Heights. Now we no longer go because of the crowds and drinking.

    And we have to reschedule our christmas party at the house because we cannot have any parking on our street.

    LITH sucks..

  • Don’t fret #42, Washington throws the kind of party you are looking for, all year long.

  • We had some Samba on our porch just outside of the parade route. Partying with some Caipirinhas. We didn’t have any trouble with people trying to get in to the party that weren’t invited.

    We should have a self propelled “Parade Tour” through the neighborhood at the end of the event. Have everyone meet at the elementary and ride bikes / roller blade / skateboard / etc. through the route to look at all the lights.

  • Hey Dave, should we call the WHAMBULANCE for you bud….maybe see if they can bring you a Benadryl since you’re obviously ALLERGIC TO FUN!!!!?????!!!

  • SFP

    and it sounds like you are confused or still hung over. this is not Burbon Street.

  • #45, there already is a post LITH parade. Check it out (from 2009)

  • I think it’s a darned shame that this is apparently the only public holiday season event at which one can consume alcohol in a city the size of Houston. What a bunch of bumpkins we are.

  • I do not live in the Woodland Heights proper but have our street shut down so that these bozos can run around with an open container and drink in the public, just like Bourbon Street in New Orleans.

    I am fine with that but don’t shut down my street. Have it on Washington Ave where the rest of the drunks hang out. And don’t use Christmas as an excuse. Have it on Halloween or Easter.

  • Terrible news. Last year was fantastic. As a Norhill owner I could not wait for this years. If the residence of the Woodland Heights were so upset by the event, how come so many of them had bands on their front porch which played well into the night? How will this be different than any other night during the Christmas time now with the changes?

  • Please note that I am NOT the whiny crybaby Dave in posts 43, 47, and 50. I’m the original one in post 4 who said the drunks weren’t bad, but the crowd had gotten rather large. And, though I live in the Heights, I would never gripe and moan that others enjoy coming to party in my neighborhood. I also do not mind them parking on my street, I do not place large stones on my grass, I don’t snitch out my neighbors to the cops or the code enforcement guys, or any of the other, miserable unfriendly things that seem to define the new Heights resident.

    What in the hell happened to our laissez faire ‘hood? It’s been taken over by ASSHOLES!!!

  • Every year, for 10 yrs, we’ve attended LITH, had parties, hosted bands-when we could (yes they volunteer) and have never had an isssue with vandalism or property damage. Our kids have gone to check out the lights yearly since thier arrival. The years we have been on the parade route were the MOST fun! Oh we have stories…but nothing we feel bad about.

    LITH is a very unique event in Houston and the thought of losing it makes me very sad. I know it is a challenge to coordinate and pull off and the folks who have carried the torch have done a great job! The neighbors I know still get together and old ones who have moved away from the neighborhood return to take a stroll down memory lane & visit friends.

    That assault story is scary one; personal safety is important. Added police will probably help that. But I was surprised that people were so worried about home security that the idea to hire personal attendants came up in a newsletter. We joked that maybe if we had paid the going price for our house we might too! A sign has done the trick for us in the past.

    I hope this year is successful so it doesn’t get voted out. I can’t imagine things starting any earlier, but whatever. Our crew is usually out and about for an hour then back home for food & drinks. What about charging admission and donating it to WHCA or Travis/Hogg? Maybe it could fund the next year? Each house gets 10 free passes. I’m sure there is some ordinance against that…

  • @ Dave 52, your sleepy Heights neighborhood is being run over by assholes because the assholes have run out of places, customs, and institutions in Montrose to destroy.

  • Well….from the Heights Life blog:

    “The biggest comparison now is to Mardi Gras, which is totally contrary to the family and neighborhood-oriented event Lights In The Heights has always been intended to be.”

    Isn’t the “sultry, steamy, exotic, artfully provocative” White Linen Night supposed to be the more adult playground? I’ve always had a good time (and a designated driver in our group).

  • Dog,Dog Eat Dog. “Ted Nugent”