Lights in the Heights Survives, Sort of

Lights in the Heights, the holiday festival that has grown to overwhelm the quiet Woodland Heights neighborhood that hosts it, will return in 2011. There'll be some changes made, however.

Martin Hajovsky, the keeper of all Heights information, says that after some discussions about ending the event, organizers will keep it alive. (We've contacted the Woodland Heights Civic Association for info, but have yet to hear back.)

Among the changes, he says:

Earlier start: Revising the hours from 5-8 p.m. instead of last year's 6-10 p.m. This is planned to get the streets cleared earlier, and thus ending the late-night revelry.

Parade: De-emphasizing the parade while "increasing its ties to the community."

No trucks: Removing food vendors at the Norhill esplanade and street corners.

Police enforcement: Working with the police to enforce laws, especially with regard to illegal drinking and parking.

As it happens, we used to live in Woodland Heights when Lights in the Heights was first born. And at Ground Zero, too: Norhill and Euclid, right off the esplanade.

Back then it seems it involved little more than luminarias on the front-lawn walks and low-key strolling between houses. Eventually -- timed judiciously with the arrival of our kid -- it grew to include Santas, a village on the esplanade, more elaborate decorations, semi-open houses for food and drink, and sleigh rides.

Now, the modest neighborhood with small streets gets swamped by, according to some estimates, 50,000 revelers who make it a mini-Mardi Gras.

Clearly something had to be done; we hope this plan succeeds, because it'd be a shame to lose an organically homegrown event like this.

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