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'This is what brings us together' | 33rd annual Uptown Holiday Lighting

It's a Houston tradition filled with music, lights and a fireworks show and it returned to an in-person celebration after COVID canceled last year's event.

HOUSTON — Christmas is one month away and on Thursday night, the Galleria area kicked off the countdown with its 33rd annual Uptown Holiday Lighting.

It's a tradition filled with music, lights and a fireworks show.

Last year, the lighting was held without people due to the pandemic, but this year it was back in full swing.

For families, the event is a reminder that the holiday season is meant to be spent together rather than apart.

"I'm glad to be out again and enjoy the atmosphere," Unetra Buckner said.

"I’m mostly excited just to be with my family," Aaliah Ortiz said.

"It’s amazing because everyone comes together and spends time with their family," Adriannah Garcia said.

"This is what brings us together," Kianna Price said.

Santa Claus lent a hand to help set off the fireworks that lit up the chilly Thanksgiving night.

"It’s great that we can come back and really enjoy the time of together, that we can enjoy the time of the year, to enjoy the fellowship and the family and the excitement," Santa said.

The crowd was happy to be back after COVID-19 safety precautions canceled in-person celebrations last year.

"I really feel like the Uptown Holiday Lighting unites Houston. We have 60 vendors that are local so we love that we’re supporting Houston communities that way," Kalee Garvin said.

Three hundred 20-foot tall stainless steel trees along Post Oak Boulevard are back, too. The LED lights on them are synched to dance to holiday music.

After more than a year of living in a COVID-19 world, families said there's nothing better than getting into the spirit of the most wonderful time of the year.

"My dad had a major heart attack on Father’s Day and he doesn’t live in Texas so him being here makes it special," Chloe Wittenberg said.

"It feels amazing to get back to some normalcy ... just because I missed being around other people and hanging out," Lauren Corcoran said.

If you missed the event on Wednesday night, you can still catch the tree display synched to music from the comfort of your car at the top of every hour. All you have to do is download the Uptown Radio Holiday App.