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  November 19, 2013

City of Houston Holiday E-Newsletter

Table of Contents

Holiday Greeting from Mayor Annise Parker


Thank you so much for your hard work and dedication to the city we love. 2013 has been another very successful year for Houston. We have been named the best city for young professionals and veterans. We are one of the top cities in the nation in metropolitan economic growth, with a robust housing market and job growth. I am truly grateful and honored that you have given me another two years to continue the positive work started during my first two terms as your mayor and to tackle the issues still needing our attention. My goal is a Houston that is the best place in which to live, work and raise a family. I encourage you to join me in the process of building a better Houston, as your input is invaluable.

May this season bring joy, peace, prosperity and appreciation for all Houstonians. From the City of Houston and its employees, and from my family to yours, happy holidays and have a prosperous new year.

Mayor Annise Parker

P.S. Remember to vote in the Saturday, December 14, 2013, City Council and Houston Community College Trustee Run-Off. For more information, visit

64th Annual Thanksgiving Houston on Parade Presented by H-E-B
Thursday, November 28, 2013, 9 a.m., Led by Broadway's Legendary Tommy Tune

Houston's own Tommy Tune kicks off the holiday and leads the festivities as grand marshal of the 64th Annual Thanksgiving Day Parade Presented by H-E-B, and produced by the Mayor's Office of Special Events at 9 a.m., Thursday, November 28. This year's tribute celebrates Houston on Parade with a stellar showcase of the city's finest - from fashion, food and heroes to culture, sports and talent adding vibrant life to this treasured tradition - throughout 20 blocks of downtown Houston.

Houston Mayor Annise Parker along with stars from the arts, entertainment, food and philanthropic community will be in attendance. New floats and towering inflatables will rule the streets with Santa Claus, the TUTS Elf, Houston Ballet, Ronald McDonald, marching bands and more!

The parade begins at 9 a.m. To view the route, visit Meter and street parking are free along the parade route. Theater District Parking is available for $7. Metro buses will be running on holiday schedule. For bus routes and schedule information, visit or call 713.635.4000.

For more information, visit or

Thanksgiving Day Parade Logo

94th Mayor's Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting Presented by Reliant
December 6, 2013, Headlined by 2013 Voice Winner Danielle Bradbery

Mayor's Holiday Celebration GraphicRing in the season with the 94th Mayor's Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting Presented by Reliant on Friday, December 6 at Hermann Square outside of City Hall, 901 Bagby, Houston 77002, 6 - 8 p.m.. This free event is a holiday tradition of music, fireworks and family fun.

Danielle Bradbery, winner of The Voice 2013, is the featured artist of the holiday variety show, which will also include performances by the Winter Wonderettes, the KIPP SHARP Singers and more.

Immediately following the performance, Mayor Annise Parker and Reliant President Elizabeth Killinger will light the Official Holiday Tree and ignite a spectacular fireworks finale perfectly timed to the Hallelujah Chorus from "Handel's Messiah" featuring Music Director Ernest Walker, his award winning band and a 100-voice choir from Westbury High School.

Sponsors include Reliant, an NRG Company; Cigna; Gables Residential; Nokia; Southwest Airlines®; KHOU/Channel 11; Houston Downtown Management District; Houston Parks and Recreation Department and the Houston Public Library Foundation. The celebration is produced by the Mayor's Office of Special Events.

Public parking is available in the Theater District. For more information, visit or

HFD Operation Stocking Stuffer Toy Drive
November 22 - December 18, 2013

Operation Stocking Stuffer GraphiBe a part of one of the largest toy drives in Houston and help the Houston Fire Department (HFD) bring some holiday joy to thousands of Houston area children in need. Through the Operation Stocking Stuffer Toy Drive, HFD, KBR and KPRC Local 2 are teaming up once again to bring some holiday joy to the hearts of local underprivileged children this season.

From Friday, November 22 - Wednesday, December 18, bring a new, unwrapped toy to any HFD Fire Station or any of the other toy collection locations, a list of which will be available online beginning November 22 at and Please note: due to the tremendous demand for toys, clothing donations will not be accepted, but there are many agencies that will welcome such donations.

To kickoff the 2013 Operation Stocking Stuffer Toy Drive, join your Houston firefighters, KBR and KPRC Local 2 on Friday, November 22, 6 a.m. - 6 p.m. at HFD Fire Station 37, 7026 Stella Link (just south of Bellaire Boulevard), Houston 77025.

KPRC Local 2 will be reporting live from Station 37 during their news broadcasts on November 22 and while supplies last, Los Cucos Mexican Cafés and Blue Bell Ice Cream will be providing special treats for anyone dropping off new toys that morning. Although the kickoff will be at Station 37, any HFD fire station will begin accepting toy donations on November 22.

If you know someone who needs toys, call toy drive hotline at 832.394.6632 for a recorded message concerning the Friday, December 20 "Great Toy Giveaway."

For more information on Operation Stocking Stuffer Toy Drive and how you, your business, place of worship or neighborhood can help, email Paul Box, HFD Public Affairs, at or call him at 832.394.6636.

To learn more about HFD, visit Working Smoke Detectors Save Lives. Test your today!

28th Annual HPD "Comida" Food Drive

The "Comida" food drive, sponsored by the Houston Police Department (HPD) and the Houston Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association, helps to feed Houston's less fortunate during the holiday season. For the past 28 years, HPD has partnered with Fiesta Mart, Inc. and The Pepsi Bottling group to collect, package and distribute boxes of food to Houston's underprivileged families.

To participate with food or cash donations, visit one of the following 14 Fiesta Mart locations on Thursday and Friday, December 5 and 6, 2013, noon - 8 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday, December 7 and 8, 2013, 9 a.m. - 5 p.m..

The 14 area Fiesta Stores are:

  • 4711 Airline, Houston 77022
  • 6200 Bellaire, Houston 77081
  • 7510 Bellfort, Houston 77061
  • 12201 East Freeway, Houston 77015
  • 1175 Edgebrook, Houston 77034
  • 8320 FM 1960, Houston 77070
  • 11240 Fondren Road, Houston 77096
  • 10401 Jensen, Houston 77093
  • 12355 Main Street, Houston 77035
  • 5600 Mykawa, Houston 77033
  • 2300 North Shepherd, Houston 77008
  • 4200 San Jacinto, Houston 77004
  • 800 South Wayside, Houston 77023
  • 12584 Westheimer, Houston 77077

Last year HPD was able to distribute 3,500 boxes of food and would like to help even more this year. To make a monetary donation online now through Saturday, December 7, visit

For more information about the food drive, visit or call HPD Public Affairs Office at 713.308.3200. To learn more about HPD, visit

HPD Encourages Everyone to Have a Safe Holiday Season

Houston Police Department LogoHouston Police Department (HPD) wants everyone to remember a few simple tips that will help keep you and your family stay safe during the hustle of the holiday season.

  • While shopping be alert and aware of your surroundings. Don't walk and talk on your phone and only carry the cards and cash you need. Secure your belongings out of sight and keep your purse nearby at all times.
  • The holiday season also means increased spending so be careful to protect your personal information too. Be wary of providing personal data and watch out for credit card skimming, the illegal copying of information from the magnetic strip of a credit or ATM card. Watch your financial statements closely and report inconsistencies immediately.
  • At home, keep the outside well lit, doors locked and curtains closed. If you are traveling out of town have a neighbor watch your house and put your lights on a timer. And while it might be tempting to display your tree in the window for everyone to see, it's best to keep your tree and gifts where on-lookers can't see.
  • When it is time to clean up remember not to advertise what gifts you received. Destroy the boxes or place them in sealed bags within the garbage or recycling cans before you set them out for garbage or recycling collection.

HPD wishes everyone a happy and safe holiday season. For more information on holiday safety tips visit To learn more about HPD, visit

To learn more about City of Houston recycling and sustainability efforts, visit, and

Home Heating Safety Tips from the Houston Fire Department

Houston Fire Department LogoWith the holiday season and colder weather fast approaching, the Houston Fire Department (HFD) recommends the following safety tips when using supplemental heating sources:

Space Heaters Need Space

  • Keep all combustible materials at least three feet from the heater
  • Never leave children unattended in a room with a space heater
  • Open-face heaters should have a screen
  • Provide ventilation to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning

Vented Gas / Fired Heating Appliances Tips - Central heating units, floor furnaces, recessed wall heaters and vented space heaters

  • Do not use these units without a proper vent pipe that exhausts to the outside
  • If your flame is not blue, it is not burning properly and is producing carbon monoxide, which can kill you. Turn off the appliance
  • Inspect the appliance(s) annually by a qualified service technician. Don't wait for cold weather!
  • Look for the American Gas Association label and follow the manufacturer's recommendations for proper usage.
  • Use flexible metal tubing (never rubber) with threaded ends to connect the heater to the gas valve. There should be a cutoff valve for the heater at the wall
  • Use soapy water to check all connections and valves for leaks. NEVER use a match to test for a gas leak!

Electric Heaters Tips

  • Never overload outlets or breakers
  • Never use extension cords for the heater. If the cord is hot to the touch, turn off the heater and unplug it!
  • Permanently installed electric heaters should have lint and dust removed regularly. Lint and dust will burn!

Fireplace safety from the National Fire Prevention Association (NFPA)
According to the NFPA, while fireplaces often conjure up images of warmth and comfort, they also are a source of house fires.

  • Ashes should be cool before putting them in a metal container, and kept at a safe distance from your home
  • Have your fireplace and chimney inspected and cleaned annually by a professional chimney sweep
  • Keep combustibles at least three feet away from a fireplace, and create a three-foot "kid-free zone" around open fires
  • Make sure the fireplace has a sturdy screen to stop sparks from flying into the room
  • Never leave a fireplace fire unattended, particularly when children are present

Smoke Detectors Save Lives - It's Just That Simple
If you need a smoke detector, call 832.394.6633 to schedule a smoke detector installation or appointment. If you or someone you know is deaf or hard-of-hearing and needs a smoke detector, contact Kenyatta Parker at or 832.394.6648.

For more information on smoke detectors, visit To learn more about HFD, visit

Houston Public Library presents the Third Annual Season's Readings

Note: Digital Public Library of America Presentation and Discussion
Wednesday, November 20, 1:30 p.m. Cancelled as of 11.18.13.

Season's Readings GraphicThe Houston Public Library presents its traditional Season's Readings holiday celebration with programs for the entire family throughout the month of December 2013. Celebrate the winter season with family-friendly, literary-inspired programs at your library. For a full list of events, visit A few featured events:

A Visit with The Three Bears' Christmas author Kathy Duvall
Saturday, December 7, 11 a.m.
Heights Neighborhood Library, 1302 Heights Boulevard, Houston 77008
Author Kathy Duvall kicks will make a presentation on her picture books for children

Music for the Season
Saturday, December 14, 2 p.m.
Central Library, Gallery Area, 500 McKinney, Houston 77002
Houston Youth Symphony, celebrating more than 65 years of music education, presents string and brass chamber music ensembles performing classical and holiday favorites

Aurora Picture Show presents: Popcorn Kids
Best of Children's Film Festival Seattle 2013

Saturday, December 14, 3 p.m.
Julia Ideson Building, Norma Meldrum Room, 550 McKinney, Houston 77002
Feel like taking a trip around the world? Then hop aboard a celluloid magic carpet to take a trip all the way from the Arctic to Mozambique, with stops along the way to see animated sights in Istanbul, Germany, France, Argentina, Germany and India! Kids and kids at heart will enjoy seeing the world in this selection of creative short animated films from the Children's Film Festival Seattle.

For more information, visit or call 832.393.1313.

Recycle Used Cooking Oil

Pipe Clogged With GreaseThe holidays are upon us and that means cooking turkeys, hams and other foods that either require cooking oils to prepare or that generate a surplus of grease when cooked.

Used cooking oils and greases, when disposed down the kitchen drain, cool, harden and clog the pipes. Diluting it in hot soapy water is NOT a solution. You can avoid possible clogged drains for the holidays by putting excess grease in a disposable container and put it in the trash or drop-off at a place that recycles and turns it into a usable product, such as biodiesel.

In conjunction with the City of Houston Solid Waste Department, the following locations are designated drop-off points residents can take used cooking oils/greases for recycling:

City of Houston Environmental Service Centers:


Environmental Service Center
5614 Neches Street
Houston 77026
Phone: 713.699.1114
Second Thursday of each month - 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.


Environmental Service Center
11500 South Post Oak Road
Houston 77035
Phone: 713. 551.7355
Tuesdays and Wednesdays - 9 a.m. - 3 p.m.
Second Saturday of each month - 9 a.m. - 1 p.m.


Westpark Consumer Recycling Center
5900 Westpark Drive
Houston 77057
Phone: 713.837.0311
Monday through Saturday - 8 a.m. - 5 p.m.

Private Service Center in the Heights Area:


Houston Biodiesel
1138 West 20th Street
Houston 77008
Phone: 713.222.0832
Monday through Friday - 10 a.m. - 6 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.

For information about Corral the Grease or ways to properly dispose of used cooking grease visit

To learn more about City of Houston recycling and sustainability efforts, visit, and

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Mailing Address:  City of Houston | P.O. Box 1562 | Houston, Texas 77251
City Hall Address:  City of Houston | 901 Bagby | Houston, Texas 77002

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Council Members: Helena Brown • Jerry Davis • Ellen R. Cohen • Wanda Adams • Dave Martin • Al Hoang • Oliver Pennington • Edward Gonzalez • James G. Rodriguez • Mike Laster • Larry V. Green • Stephen C. Costello • Andrew C. Burks, Jr. • Melissa Noriega • C.O. “Brad” Bradford • Jack Christie
Controller: Ronald C. Green