Macy's Great Tree Lighting: Kicks off Chicago's Holiday Season

Story By Carole Kuhrt Brewer  Photos by Dan Locke
For 106 years the lighting of the "Great Tree" has signaled the holiday season in Chicago. The tradition continues at Macy's State Street store (111 N. State Street) tomorrow, November 2 with a day of holiday related events and activities surrounding the lighting of the "Great Tree."
The hallowed tradition started in an era much different than today.  Horse-drawn vehicles were de rigueur during those times when a certain magic penetrated the icy winter air.  Legions of families would put on their Sunday best and head to Marshall Field's on State Street where they would expectantly stand in line for however long it took to get a table in the Walnut Room under the magnificent live tree that was lighted by spotlights and protected by on-site firemen 24 hours a day (now the Great Tree is artificial and has been for decades).
Parents brought their children, the children grew-up and brought their children, grandparents and even great-grandparents all became part of the party that grew larger each year.
When Macy's took over Marshall Field's in 2006, they knew better than to mess with the hallowed tradition. Instead, instead they embraced it and added even more days to its stay.
This year's "Great Tree" lighting ceremony will take place tomorrow at noon in the Walnut Room (the tree will remain through Jan. 5, 2014). Nick Cannon, a multi-faceted entertainer in film, comedy, TV, radio, will "light" the Great Tree joined by Lauren Alaina, American Idol Season 10 runner-up, singing two holiday songs.

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