When it comes to yuletide happenings, Downtown District is filled to the brim with the standard fare. As soon as we take down the Halloween decorations, it's open season for nonstop reminders about The Nutcracker, A Christmas Carol and everything in between. These yearly events have a comfy familiarity, but let's be honest...It's easy to get a little numb to the usual, expected celebrations, so why not shake it up with a twist on the traditional? Thus, Downtown District is welcoming its inaugural Thing-A-Ma-Jingle this Friday on Main Street between Commerce and Rusk from 7 p.m. to midnight.
Thing-A-Ma-Jingle promises to deliver an out-of-the-box way to take part in the holidays, packed with events sure to please the 21 and up crowd. The block party will feature a Black Friday gift market with upwards of 30 vendors, lighting projections, food and drink specials and live music at area bars and restaurants. It's an easy way to entertain friends visiting from out of town, or it's the perfect excuse to duck out if the idea of spending time with the extended family seems a bit too much to handle.
"It's celebrating Main Street, and it gives us a trifecta of events. It's all super fun, and super festive," said Downtown District's Director of Marketing and Communications Angie Bertinot, referencing Thing-A-Ma-Jingle's sandwiching between two long-established events: the 70th Annual H-E-B Thanksgiving Day Parade on Thursday and Reliant Lights Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular – 100 years at City Hall on Saturday. "We've been talking to the city for a few years about how to kick off the holiday season and make it a big deal, and that's where Thing-A-Ma-Jingle began."
Thankfully, those conversations happened, because we've been itching for something that is a way to take part in the feel good moments of the winter holidays, but we've also been craving something a little more reflective of current times. The name alone gives a hint to the evening's somewhat irreverent and mischievously entertaining nature. The best part, though, is arguably tied between photo opportunities with Hipster Santa, the 4D experience and the roaming carol-oke.
"We’re always trying to push ourselves and find a quirky twist to make Downtown programming unique to us and fit what we consider the branding of Downtown to be, so we came up with the idea of Hipster Santa. We have a fantastic Santa, and we’ve got him in a dapper, velvet smoking jacket with a cool tee underneath and a jaunty hat. He still looks like Santa, but he’s more sophisticated. His helpers are two amazing drag queens, and they’ll be determining who’s naughty or nice," Bertinot said.
Rounding out the other must-see tidbits during Friday's hootenanny, Downtown District will set up a 4D cinema to simulate a full immersion sleigh ride excursion. Also, don't miss Carol-oke, a holiday-themed play on karaoke, that involves a team tooling around the street in a pedicab and hosting on-the-spot singing moments, pop-up style. The area will be blocked off from vehicular traffic, making it pedestrian friendly and easy to navigate from one vendor to the next.
"We want it to be interactive, cool and unexpected," Bertinot said. From the sounds of it, they nailed it.
Adding Thing-A-Ma-Jingle to the lineup of the weekend's festivities is all part of Downtown District's newest campaign in partnership with the City of Houston and Houston First titled "Unwrap Downtown." It intends to highlight signature events that kick off the season, but it also encourages Houstonians and visitors to return throughout the holidays to discover and enjoy an abundance of winter-time cultural events and happenings.
"Main Street is so different than it was even just five years ago. There’s tons of new activities, office towers, food halls and more on Main Street," Bertinot said, noting the renewed energy and vitality surrounding the historic area. "We decided to invest a lot of money in a holiday decor program to focus on Main Street, and at the same time, we're supporting the businesses on Main Street."
On a macro level, what brings attention to Main Street has a ripple effect for the entire area. Unwrap Downtown helps remind Houstonians that the 002 is quite the versatile space. It is an economic powerhouse that fuels the careers and industry that makes H-Town such a land of opportunity. It's also a thriving place where we can enjoy our downtime and let loose with bucket loads of arts, culture and activities that make our city so exciting to live and work in.
Plus, around this time of year, we can make the season merry and bright with all the picturesque decorations. Downtown District’s new Main Street holiday decor stretches from Polk to Texas with custom 30-foot holiday trees, pole decorations, 40-foot-wide street transverses and an over-sized Noel “selfie moment” as well as new multi-colored shooting star pole decorations located from Texas to Commerce. The largest mistletoe ball in Texas will be on view at Market Square Park, and other decorations are sprinkled throughout the zip code.
'Tis the season to mix it up, so don't miss the first ever Thing-A-Ma-Jingle and be sure to schedule a trip Downtown, where there is bound to be something that tickles your fancy this winter.
Including Hipster Santa.
Thing-A-Ma-Jingle takes place from 7 p.m. to midnight Friday on Main Street, between Commerce and Rusk. For information, visit downtownhouston.org/calendar/thing-ma-jingle/95343. The event is encouraged for ages 21+ and is free to attend.