Chicago’s holiday season officially kicked off Friday night with the lighting of the city’s official Christmas tree in Millennium Park.
The 51-foot blue spruce, donated by the Benavides family of Logan Square, was decorated with an array of lights and ornaments. Noemi Benavides also celebrated her birthday on Friday. The tree had been in their garden for 34 years.
This year’s event marked the return to an in-person celebration for the first time since 2019. Last year’s ceremony has become a virtual event due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The festivities, which featured fireworks, also included a pre-show hosted by DJ DJ Selah Say, with additional entertainment provided by Mariachi Herencia from Mexico City (performing their new single, a mariachi version of most wonderful of the year “), the cast of the Chicago Opera Theater production of” Becoming Santa Claus, “a youth dance ensemble from the Kenwood School of Ballet, and special guests Dreezy Claus and Sister Claus.
A concert featuring Grammy-nominated singer Brian McKnight, a performance by the cast of Cirque du Soleil’s “Twas the Night Before …” and the Chicago Soul Spectacular completed the musical extravagance for the crowds gathered on the Great Lawn.
Friday’s celebration, hosted by Tonya Francisco and Amy Rutledge of WGN-TV, marked the city of Chicago’s 108th annual Christmas tree lighting. The tree will be on display until January 9, 2022, and the park will be open daily from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.