On Tuesday morning, Houston Mayor Sylvester Turner announced that the 101st annual Reliant Lights Mayor’s Holiday Spectacular will be a totally virtual affair this year due to COVID-19.
Just as the city reimagined its annual Fourth of July celebration because of the coronavirus, the 2020 holiday spectacular will feature a mix of pre-recorded and live virtual performances, but no in-person fans at all due to public health concerns.
The event will be livestreamed online by ABC13 from 6:30 - 8 p.m. on December 5, and an edited hour-long version of the event will be broadcast on the local channel at 7 p.m. December 18.
“This is my favorite time of the year, even with the pandemic… and while the holidays may be a bit different this season, and it will be a bit different, there’s always a reason to celebrate,” Turner said.
Highlighting this year’s set of performers are Houston’s own Robert Glasper, a pianist and record producer who’s won multiple Grammys for his solo R&B output and his work with rapper Kendrick Lamar; jazz and R&B songwriter Ledisi; and country star contestant Laci Kaye Booth, a former American Idol contestant who grew up in Livingston and hour northeast of Houston.
The virtual show will also feature performances from the Houston Ballet, Selana tribute artist Amanda Solis, Disney’s DCappella singing group, Houston’s Break Free Hip Hop School breakdancing team, and the Dance of Asian America group whose performances draw on traditional dances from multiple Chinese ethnic groups.
Turner was joined by his special events director Susan Christian, representatives from event sponsors Reliant and Cigna, and Downtown District President Bob Eury. Eury reminded Houstonians that there will be plenty of holiday lights to check out downtown, and that Discovery Green’s annual ice skating rink is up and running (although tickets must be purchased online ahead of time this year).
The biggest guest in Turner’s morning press conference was Santa Claus himself, who dialed-in via Zoom from some tropical locale to tell the mayor he’s on the good list this year and to remind Houstonians that “However you celebrate the holidays, it doesn’t matter: safety is of utmost importance, especially during these times.”
Santa also took a moment to declare his love for Houston. “Bayou City is my favorite place to fly on Christmas Eve. As a matter of fact, Houston is always my first stop,” Santa said in a suspiciously Texan-sounding drawl.