Mon, Dec 22, 2008 - Page 7 News List

Airport in Houston spreads Christmas cheer with karaoke

AP , HOUSTON, TEXAS

‘Tis the season for red-capped Santas and red-nosed reindeers. Sleigh bells ringing and snowflakes glistening. Stockings carefully hung and yuletide carols being sung — in an airport terminal. With a karaoke machine.

Ho-ho-ho, hold that flight. There’s a holiday surprise for travelers — and aspiring performers — passing through Houston’s Bush Intercontinental Airport this month.

There it is, just past the security checkpoint, set atop a small stage: a karaoke machine adorned with Christmas lights and stockings shaped like cowboy boots. There’s even a team of Christmas elves — airport employees the rest of the year.

“A little holiday karaoke while you wait? It’s fun and it’s free,” employee Ashley Thompson said. “You could be a star.”

This is the first year the airport has included holiday-themed karaoke among its array of seasonal musical entertainment, which includes school choirs and local bands. The karaoke booth is being set up five times around the airport this month.

On a Thursday morning just after a rare snowfall had frosted Houston, the holiday spirit — or perhaps, the thrill of performing in front of strangers — was strong among airport employees and travelers with time to kill. One after another, crooners stepped up to the microphone and belted out holiday classics — each putting their own mark on the melodies.

A tiny boy in a Goofy T-shirt squeaked out a rendition of Feliz Navidad, with his mother kneeling by his side singing harmony. A dark-haired songstress vamped her way through a coquettish Santa Baby. A pair of blonde-haired gymnasts opened their version of Jingle Bells with synchronized handstands.

“I would do that but I haven’t stretched yet,” joked Jeff Zimbelman, 26, as he took the stage to perform O Holy Night.

Airport employee Rob Mason came up with the idea and offered the use of a karaoke machine he takes to his mother’s nursing home. The velvet-voiced Mason also serves as emcee for the festivities in a tuxedo.

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