...His fondest memories will be of the outpouring of interest when the tacky house tour began 10 years ago. "I figured I could rent one of those trolleys for about 15 people," said Gottlieb. "That filled up right away. Then I rented a bus and that filled up in an hour. Then I rented another bus and that filled up."
At one house decked out in blue lights, tour members spontaneously broke into Elvis' "Blue Christmas." At another house, they marveled at the lifelike figures on the roof wrapped in lights. "After a while, we realized that the lifelike figures were real people," Gottlieb said, laughing.The tour of way lit up houses still goes on, although Gottlieb moved to San Francisco nine years ago. This year a group of local bicycle enthusiasts in the Fan District did their own lights tour, a knockoff of a more urban persuasion than the original, which usually focuses on the efforts of crazed suburbanites determined to outdo one another in pure wattage.
Back in 1989, or maybe it was 1990, yours truly was one of four, maybe five judges, for Mad Dog's annual stunt. We rode around in a limousine drinking beer, looking at houses made up to resemble amusement parks, or perhaps houses of ill fame in a Fellini film. I remember the all-blue-lights house that McKelway mentioned in his piece (which is a good read). By far the smallest house on the list, it scared me it little bit. So I stayed in the limo while the others went in. Gottlieb greatly enjoyed meeting the people, getting their story and so forth. Some he would see each year, other were new. At the end of the tour we judges voted and may have gone to a bar.
The photo essay that follows is my effort to get in the Christmas spirit. It is made up of a series of stills I shot in the twilight today, on my way to happy hour at the Baja Bean. Ho! Ho! Ho! It's a SLANT exclusive -- The Fan Tacky Walk to Happy Hour 2005: