Let there be lights. And ornaments. And fireworks.
Chicago’s holiday season is now open, following Friday night’s lighting of the City’s official Christmas tree in Millennium Park.
Thousands of revelers turned out for the annual ceremony that combines holiday fun and fireworks at Washington and Michigan.
This year’s tree (the city’s 110th) — a 45-foot-tall Colorado blue spruce — was donated by the De La Cruz family of southwest suburban Darien. Abby De La Cruz and her parents, Zenaida and Efren, entered an area-wide contest earlier this fall to determine who’s tree would make its home in Millennium Park for the holiday season.
The family was on-hand Friday night, joining Mayor Brandon Johnson as the official on-switch was pushed, illuminating more than 60,000 LED lights on the massive tree and signaling the start of fireworks high over the rooftops of nearby Loop buildings.
In an interview with the Sun-Times earlier this month, family members said the tree was “a gift to the city” in gratitude to the place they’ve called home since the early 1970s, when they left the Philippines for a better life.”
Entertainment at Friday’s event included performances from DJ TREW, cast members from “Boop! The Betty Boop Musical,” Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago, and Chicago Dance Crash.
Also opening Friday night was the McCormick Ice Rink, just adjacent to the holiday tree court. Admission to the rink is free, but online, time-stamped tickets are required. Rates for skate rentals: $16 Monday–Thursday; $20 Friday-Sunday and holidays. Lockers can be rented for $2. The rink will remain open through March 3, 2024.
Sun-Times staff photographer Tyler Pasciak LaRiviere was on-hand Friday night to capture the sights and sounds in Millennium Park as the festivities unfolded.