Homage to a Flying Monkey: The Ginnie Yon Yon Carnival

In the early 1900s, the area that is now the Houston Heights was a separate municipality and its heart was the commercial thoroughfare of 19th Street. Lined with bars and nightlife, 19th Street drew crowds looking for a good time. 

To lure patrons to his establishment, one bar owner devised a clever marketing gimmick that sent a small monkey named Ginnie Yon Yon into the air via hot air balloon and back down again by parachute. The spectacle did indeed draw tipsy crowds and that, the story goes, is one of the reasons area residents got together the fall of 1912 and successfully petitioned for a ban on alcohol in their neighborhood.

The Ginnie Yon Yon cocktail pays tribute to the original flying monkey of the Heights. 

The Ginnie Yon Yon cocktail pays tribute to the original flying monkey of the Heights. 

While establishments in the Heights have through the years been able to sell alcohol as private clubs, the “dry ordinance” survived the Heights’ 1919 annexation by the city of Houston and remains in place to this day. In November, voters in the area will get to decide if the law should be repealed when it will appear on the election ballot. 

Morgan Weber and the team at Agricole Hospitality wanted to pay homage to the legendary monkey with a unique event. On Sunday September 3, Eight Row Flint will play host to the first annual Ginnie Yon Yon Carnival. The event will feature live monkeys, a dunking booth, face painting, balloon animals and drink specials including the cocktail named after the monkey herself, the Ginnie Yon Yon (made with Citadelle gin and Laird’s apple brandy). 

“The Heights has so much great history and this is one of those great stories that we wanted to have fun with,” says Morgan. “This will be a community event for the Heights that we hope people will embrace and help grow through the years.” 

AJ Mistretta