For the past 37 years, residents in the community of Prestonwood Forest in northwest Harris County have decorated their homes for the holidays with each street taking on a unique theme. About 15,000 visitors drive through the neighborhood each year, looking at the decorations from their cars and waving to residents who oftentimes sit outside and enjoy the festivities with their neighbors.
"We've been doing this for 30 years or more," resident Jack Howard said. "A lot of kids grew up doing it, and now they're coming back with their own kids. It's a very festive occasion, and it's pretty well-known throughout the north side of Houston."
Nite of Lights first began in 1977 when residents living on Roebourne Lane in the Prestonwood Forest community got together and decided to decorate their street for the holidays with lights and homemade signs.
"It went over very well, and a lot of people came to look at it," Howard said. "The following year the street I lived on, Wycomb Drive, decided it was such a good idea that we decided to do it, too."
By the mid-'80s, the idea had spread throughout most of the Prestonwood Forest subdivision and has continued every year since.
There are a variety of themed streets in the neighborhood, ranging from Texas-themed lights to Disney-themed lights to Peanuts-themed decorations. The week before Christmas is typically the best time to see the lights and decorations, Howard said, before traffic in the neighborhood slows and becomes bumper-to-bumper due to all the incoming visitors.
But visitors in cars are not the only ones to see the lights every year—they can also be seen from the sky.
"Airline pilots flying into Bush Intercontinental Airport have said that as they're coming into Houston, they can spot our subdivision from the air because of the lights," Howard said.
This year's Nite of Lights began Dec. 13 and runs through Dec. 28. Visitors are urged to keep their headlights on during their drive through the neighborhood.