CHICAGO (TBEN) — Christmas is still more than a month away, but nothing sets the festive tone quite like the sights in Millennium Park on Friday night.
The glow of 60,000 lights illuminated the park after the city flipped the switch on the crown jewel of Christmas decorations – during Chicago’s 109th annual tree-lighting ceremony.
But as TBEN 2’s Jermont Terry reported, that’s just the beginning of the holiday activities this weekend.
The frigid temperatures didn’t stop thousands from venturing downtown on Friday evening. For some, a cold glass of beer paired perfectly with the chilly air at Daley Plaza’s 26th annual Christkindlmarket.
We saw lots of smiles, snacks and trinkets to go around.
Rose Taylor, 4, hung out with her mother and grandmother Christkindlmarket. She was all wrapped up, but she was having the best time.
What were Rose and her family up to? “Shopping,” she replied.
Three generations enjoyed that shopping to kick off the holiday season – and where better than Chicago?
“I have my city that is in great shape,” said Noreen Ryan. “It’s just nice to see people out and about. We went in and out of all the shops and it’s just a good feeling to see people enjoying themselves.
And there’s plenty to enjoy with all the sights and lights. Michelle Kelley and her family spend the entire weekend in town.
“We’re here to kick it off for the holidays. We’re here for the festival of lights and the parade — and we’re going to see a show at the Lookingglass Theater,” said Kelley.
The Kelleys are from the western suburb of Downers Grove. They have a packed weekend planned.
A stop at Millennium Park to view this year’s Christmas tree is definitely on the to-do list – and the Kelleys certainly won’t be the only ones making it a point to go see it.
“It’s starting to feel like normal — whatever is normal, we’re getting there,” Kelley said, “and I’m okay with that.”
And while winter and holidays go hand in hand, it’s actually not even winter right now. Yet Yvonne Ilozuluike from Nigeria was not surprised by the chill.
“Honestly, I thought there would be less people on the street because it gets cold, because I live around here, so there are always people – but there are always people,” Ilozuluike said. “I want it to start snowing quietly so that there are fewer people.”
But of course the opposite is going to happen in Chicago.
‘It’s nice, Ilozuluike by the way. “There’s so much to do.”
The city of Aurora also lit the Christmas tree with fireworks in the background on Friday. Earlier on Friday, Christkindlmarket also opened its first and only suburban location in Aurora.
Christkindlmarket now also has a location outside of Wrigley Field – with a carousel at the center of the action. Winterland opened next door on Gallagher Way – which is also home to an ice rink and winter carnival in the ballpark.
And this Saturday is the Wintrust Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on North Michigan Avenue.