Thanksgiving Day Parade Hanna-Barbera cartoon characters, country and western chanteuse Naomi Judd, tiny bundle of cuteness Cathy Rigby and CBS' Love and War star Jay Thomas will be in our fair city to help us celebrate the Pilgrims' first feast with a huge parade through downtown Houston. The theme is "World of Wonder." Where did they get this idea? We suspect there's a book, a helpful text that lists available parade and festival themes. We also suspect this book was published by Disney HQ around 1957. Oh well, originality doesn't seem to be an issue in parade fandom. (Pssst, the giant balloon animals will be blown up the night before. Stop by the corner of Walker and Louisiana for a sneak peek.) Television coverage begins with a pre-parade show at 8 a.m. on KHOU/Channel 11, the floats roll at 9 a.m. The parade will begin at Smith and Walker, travel three blocks northeast, turn right onto Texas, thrill bystanders for four blocks, then turn right again for the main drag down Main, finally hooking another right on Leeland, continuing another two blocks, and then concluding with a northeast pass down Milam. (That means clever spectators can see the parade come down Main and then scurry over to Milam and watch it go by again.) For more information, call 468-6824, access code BANK. Free.
Heavy horses The Budweiser Clydesdales are familiar to many Houstonians because of their many Livestock show appearances (and from Bud commercials where they gallop, in soft-core porn slow-mo action and moody lighting, across sunny beaches and snowy meadows.) The big horses are in town early to march in the Thanksgiving Parade. Beginning Friday and through the weekend, Duke, Captain, Mark and the rest of the bays will be on display with their dalmatian buddies at the Sam Houston Race Park. The eight-horse hitch will execute a precision drill on the track at 2:30 p.m. (weather permitting), and between noon and 1 p.m. kids can have their picture taken with the team for a mere $3 (benefiting Toys for Tots.) Parents of timid children should note that, at an average weight of 2,000 pounds, Clydesdales dwarf Thoroughbreds. Sam Houston Race Park, on the south side of Beltway 8 between 290 & I-45, 807-RACE. Gates open at 11:30 a.m. General admission $3.
Christmas Star and Nutcracker Fantasy Christmas Star is a provocative, seasonal planetarium show. The Digistar starfield projector recreates the night sky over the Holy Land, both during late December when we celebrate Christmas and in the spring, which is the time of year when Bethlehem-area shepherds traditionally watched over new-born lambs (and which is a more likely season for Jesus' birth). Maybe the story was skewed, and the timing that's become traditional is just smoke and mirrors, because the early Christians had to hide their holiday. (They sneakily celebrated during the Roman festival of Saturnalia.) And also maybe what the wise men saw was an astronomical event -- perhaps an alignment of the planets or a supernova heralding the death of a star (or perhaps just stellar puberty). The planetarium doesn't offer any hard answers, but it does provide some intriguing night sky speculation.
Nutcracker Fantasy, on the other hand, is a purely whimsical Christmas show. Instead of pondering seriously any important celestial events, this planetarium show employs laser lights in the images of dancing mice and characters from the Hoffman tale, accompanied by Tchaikovsky's music, of course. Both show several times daily through Dec. 31. Houston Museum of Natural Science, Burke Baker Planetarium, 1 Hermann Park, 639-IMAX. $2 adults, $1.50 under 12 and seniors, $1 members. Advance tickets available.
A Fertle Holiday! Radio Music Theatre used to call their Christmas show Invasion of the Bed Snatchers and everyone loved it. Then, Ken Polk moved to L.A. to work with Carol Burnett and everything changed. RMT's main man, Steve Farrell, has come up with a new name for the holiday show and, we suspect, punched it up and added a number of fresh topical references and maybe even some new songs. Still, it's the treasured story of the Fertle family reunion in Dumpster, Texas. The Fertle family seems to number 15 or so, but they won't sit still long enough to be counted, even though the whole clan is played by only three actors. There's still nothing quite like Radio Music Theatre. Take your dad, take your date, take everyone and go all the time. A Fertle Holiday! continues through Jan. 14. Radio Music Theatre, 2623 Colquitt, 522-7722. $12.
The Best Christmas Pageant Ever From one of the best children's books ever. At first blush, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever might seem to suggest that Joseph, his dallying-with-the-big-guy wife and her son were all Holy Land trash. This is not, in fact, the message of the story. The idea is more that, while Joseph and his family might have been considered people of a lower order by their neighbors, they were responsible for the term Holy Land. This point is made when the six worst kids in the whole history of the world, the dreaded Herdman brats, take over a school pageant and portray the parents of the Christ child not as smug, beaming icons but as scared but still dang-proud parents. Through December 31. A.D. Players Grace Theater, 2710 West Alabama, 526-2721. Fri. & Sat., 8 p.m., $17; Sun., 2:30 p.m., $12.
35th Annual AutoRama Another one of the world's largest indoor auto events fills the Astrodomain for Thanksgiving weekend. See the Flintstones' car! Tremble before Freddy Krueger (or at least his real world alter ego, Robert Englund)! Drool over biker babes in a Harley-Davidson fashion show! Meet Mighty Morphin Power Ranger Zack! Meet Wolverine! Oh, it's all almost too cool to be believed!
AutoRama opens to the well-fed holiday public at 5 p.m. on Thanksgiving day and continuesthroughSunday.The Flintmobile will be on display with many classic cars, hot new models and heretofore prototypes for futuristic vehicles that will never be produced. Harley-Davidson fashion shows will be held daily. Robert Englund, without his scissorhands, will appear 1-4 & 7-10 p.m. today. Wolverine will meet adoring fans 1-4 & 7-9 p.m. Fri. & Sat. and 1-4 p.m. Sun. Walter Jones, TV's "Zack," will sign autographs from 1-5 p.m. Sunday. And attendees can register to win a free trip to the Dallas Coke Funny Car Nationals. The AutoRama is open 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m. today. Astrodomain, Kirby at the Loop, 791-5010. $9, $3 children. Advance tickets available at any Hi/Lo Auto Supply store. $7 adults, $2 children.
Photograph a hunky fireman Evin Thayer studios is staging a mock fashion shoot at FotoFest. As Elsa Klensch fans know, modeling and photography isn't all beer and Skittles, and you would be a fool to think that the business of creating stylish, slick fashion photographs for glossy magazines is anything but hard work. Oh, we should pity Kate Moss and Helmut Newton. To prove this point, Evin Thayer will show how tough it is to direct lighting assistants, photographer's assistants and all the little people who scurry around at fashion shoots setting things up and taking things down and emptying the ashtrays. After, camera-carrying members of the general public will be allowed to photograph real, live models -- including the gorgeous flaming stud firefighters of Evin Thayer's fireman calendar. (Maybe the boys will be oiled and mussed by professional stylists. Wow.) 1:30-3:30 p.m. George R. Brown Convention Center, exhibit hall A, right in front of the fashion exhibit. Call the FotoFest hot line for details, 840-9711. Admission included in FotoFest entry fee, $6 for one day, $10 for a three-day weekend pass.
Typewatchers Typewatchers, the local chapter of the Association for Psychological Type, is holding another workshop. Tonight, the group will discuss the role of the Myers-Briggs Personality Type in change management. Why the Myers-Briggs Personality Indicator? There are, after all, so many ways to plumb the psyches of workers -- the Menninger Word Association Test, the Porteus Maze Test, the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory, a couple decades worth of Cosmo quizzes and an analysis recently used by a local ad agency. That test labeled workers as a "headline," "logo," "body copy" or "illustration." At the very least, this diagnosis gave the members of the company an interesting way to connect with their work. The whole crew seemed quite cheered by the episode, if for no other reason than that the testing was a day away from deadlines. Maybe testing is mostly a tool to get people to open up. Find out with the Typewatchers. 5:45-7:30 p.m. Right Associates, Weslayan at Essex. For reservations and more information call Bruce Anderson, 439-8585. Free.
The Hanukkah Edition Tonight is another of Laveau's dark, dank special Mondays, with live music from Keenlies and de Schmog, and pornographic cartoons. To make things a bit more festive, the management has chosen a holiday theme, the Hanukkah Edition. Cheap drinks and cheaper people. 321 Alabama, 526-9400. No cover.
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Toy trains Fans of miniature trains have three choices:
A) see the smaller, more accessible setup at Cullen Center; B) see the more elaborate, less accessible display in the Galleria; or C) visit both. The Cullen Center Crossing doesn't have a life-sized caboose, The Galleria Lone Star Limited exhibition does. However, the Cullen Center Crossing has more than a dozen 20-car train tracks (trains run 11 a.m.-2 p.m. weekdays) and photographs and memorabilia on loan from the Galveston Railroad Museum and the National Railway Historical Society, and this display is on view in the relatively calm world of downtown. The Galleria Lone Star Limited is a fancier show -- actual artists and designers were employed in its construction -- but the exhibition has an admission charge and is surrounded by Galleria traffic and a three-part mall full of fierce holiday shoppers. (The Galleria is described by the promoters of this event as "a mixed-use center with more than 300 stores.") Cullen Center Crossing is on view until Dec. 17, at Cullen Center, 1600 Smith. The Galleria Lone Star Limited will be in Galleria II through January 15. Call 627-STAR for details. $3.
Go Buffalo Rodeo This second annual spectacular of livestock and Southwestern rhythms has been organized for more than entertainment. Proceeds will be used to buy new books and improve conditions generally at select inner-city Catholic schools. Sure, in many ways this is a typical rodeo: bulls will be ridden, calves will be roped and barrels will be raced -- but this rodeo has so much more. We will remember the Latin side of cowboy culture with vaqueros. These skilled horsemen will show off their animals and perform rope tricks while cantering around the arena. Children, students of inner-city Catholic schools, will participate in a Native American friendship dance. And there will be further entertainment, in the form of a musical show with frontier tunes and historical commentary.
The Go Buffalo Rodeo continues through December 1. Today, however, is the Children's School Educational Rodeo, and attending might be more than fun. Many of these inner-city Catholic schoolchildren come from the 800,000 Hispanic-Americans in Harris County. You might want to offer some support for their education. Or, you could just go out for a fine show and fajitas, gumbo and Native American fry bread. 10 a.m.-1 p.m. today. Johnny Nash Indoor Arena, 6200 Willardville (near Almeda-Genoa and Mykawa), 995-5780. $10-$100.