Thousands of people braved the cold weather and gathered Friday night to witness fireworks, a concert, and the lighting of a 61-foot Christmas tree in the official start to the holiday season in Houston.
The annual 94th Mayor's Holiday Celebration and Tree Lighting was held at Hermann Square outside the City Hall in downtown Houston, America's fourth largest city.
Wearing red Santa hats with light-emitting diode (LED) lights, around 100,000 people turned the square into a sea of red as they watched the ceremony kick off with live performances from choirs and singers including Danielle Bradbery, winner of season four of popular TV talent competition The Voice.
After an audience countdown, Houston's Mayor Annise Parker switched on the 3,000 LED lights decorating the white fir tree, which was followed by a spectacular lengthy display of fireworks.
Kid wearing balloon hats laughed and danced to the music, while some dog owners even had their pets don Christmas costumes to join in the festive fun.
"The event is really nice. It's a little cold but a lot of fun. It's really exciting down here right now," Ashley Monteil, a college student from Rice University, told Xinhua.
Monteil's friend Jackie Morgan agreed, saying: "I am very excited because it is the beginning of the Christmas season and that is the time for us all to be better people."
The family-friendly event is a city tradition organized by the mayor's office and sponsored by private companies and public institutions.