It was on November 21, 1992 that the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association produced the first Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, then known as the Michigan Avenue Lights Festival. Eli’s Marc Schulman was honored to serve as the first Chairman of the Lights Festival. That first year attracted a crowd of 50,000 people and Marc was quoted in a Tribune article by Rick Kogan the week before the event that “We think this will mark the new coming of age of Michigan Avenue. Our hope is that the lighting of the trees will become a holiday highlight.”

Truer words were never said as the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival now attracts 1 million people to Michigan Avenue to see the one million lights lit.

marc, mickey, minnie

Eli’s Marc Schulman welcomes Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse to the Magnificent Mile for a preview of the 19th Annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on Saturday, November 20th.

mmlf group

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is produced the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association, a not for profit almost 100 years old that is dedicated to preserving and enhancing the Michigan Avenue Area. Over 1,000 volunteers work to make Light Festival Day a great days for families to shop, dine and stay on the Magnificent Mile and then stay on to watch the procession. The fact that the Lights Festival is a volunteer run event with strong corporate and city support makes it one of the largest holiday events of its type in the country as well as one of the biggest one day events held in Chicago annually.

mmlf andy hubert

Harris Bank is  the presenting sponsor of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. Above Hubert the Harris Lion shares his excitement for the upcoming event with Andy Avalos, weatherman for the NBC5 Morning News.

Below are details of this year’s Magnificent Mile Lights Festival:

The Nation’s Largest Evening Holiday Event Also Boasts a Day of Star-Studded Festivities

Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Lights Festival® presented by Harris kicks off the 2010 Holiday Season, November 20

By Greater North Michigan Avenue Association
Published: Tuesday, Nov. 9, 2010 – 12:08 pm

CHICAGO, Nov. 9, 2010 — /PRNewswire/ –

WHO: The 19th Annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival® Presented by Harris on Saturday, November 20th…
WHAT: … will mark the official start of the 2010 Holiday Season with families traveling from all over the U.S. to enjoy a weekend filled with free holiday activities along the world class Magnificent Mile®. Offering something for everyone, the event that is produced by over 700 volunteers and key sponsors promises to be bigger, brighter and better than ever, with a variety of celebrity entertainers and  appearances by beloved Disney characters including new characters Phineas and Ferb.  Visitors enjoy free daytime concerts and interactive booths at Lights Festival Lane in Pioneer Court, and holiday offers at famous retailers, restaurants and hotels along North Michigan Avenue, One of the Great Avenues of the World®.
Mickey Mouse, joined by Minnie Mouse for the first time ever on the grand marshal float, will illuminate more than one million lights on 200 trees along The Magnificent Mile during the procession that commences on Saturday, November 20 at 5:30 p.m.  The procession will also feature more than 30 spectacular floats, Illinois and out-of-state marching bands and other performers, helium-filled balloons including Harris’ 35-foot Hubert the Lion, a Red-Nosed Reindeer, gift package, holiday tree and gingerbread man, and more will dazzle the audience.
Jon Michael Hill of ABC’s Detroit 1-8-7, a Steppenwolf alumni and Chicago native, will be joining local ABC7 hosts Janet Davies and Alan Krashesky during the hour-long nationally televised ABC7 Chicago special covering The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival presented by Harris. The show airs on Saturday, November 20 from 6-7 p.m. CST in local markets, and will air in over 23 markets throughout the nation simultaneously or at a later time.  The show will also be re-broadcasted locally on December 5 and December 18 for those that miss the original show.  The popular TV holiday special will highlight the day’s entertainment as well as the entire procession and special celebrity greetings.
The Extra Mile: Acts of Kindness to Start the Holiday Season program kicks off its second year of giving back.  The program allows patrons of participating shops, restaurants and hotels to give to a variety of local, regional and national charity organizations through a host of day-long activities and deals that can extend throughout the holiday season. For a complete list of participants, visit www.themagnificentmile.com.
Event highlights include:
  • North Pole-like directional signage will guide visitors through Lights Festival Lane, an interactive, holiday wonderland featuring booths including Eli’s Cheesecake decorating and non-perishable donation collection for the Greater Chicago Food Depository, Doubletree Chicago Magnificent Mile’s Chocolate Chip Cookie sale benefiting Windy City Habitat for Humanity, Radio Disney’s surprise meet n’ greet event with Phineas and Ferb, an interactive kid station created by Shedd Aquarium, Whole Foods Market’s marshmallow snowman and gingerbread house decorating,  a prize wheel and exciting giveaways in the Harris booth plus a view of LEGO Hubert, the John Hancock Observatory photo booth with Santa and Mrs. Claus, and Cuties Clementines fruit and giveways, all located on Pioneer Court (401 N. Michigan Avenue)
  • Musical performances on the Harris Stage from 11 a.m. – 3:45 p.m. in Pioneer Court, 401 N. Michigan Avenue, feature Playhouse Disney Musical Duo Choo-Choo Soul with Genevieve!, Justin Roberts and the Not Ready for Naptime Players, The Radio Disney Road Crew, Allstar Weekend presented by Radio Disney, and Crystal Bowersox presented by 101.9fm THE MIX.
  • Procession floats feature Mickey and Minnie Mouse, together for the first time on the lead float, and additional floats with their pals from Disney Parks. First-time Disney character appearances include Phineas and Ferb.  There will also be giant holiday-themed balloons, LED-lit parade floats from the East Peoria Festival of Lights including Puff the Magic Dragon and a holiday train. A variety of performers including KT Tunstall presented by 101.9fm THE MIX, American Idol’s Siobhan Magnus and Wilson Phillips also shine in the spotlight.
  • Two out-of-state, nationally recognized marching bands from Tallassee, Alabama and Cleveland, Tennessee join the line up of Illinois-based bands including the Morton West High School Marching Band, the Rickover Naval Academy Marching Band, and DePaul University’s Belden Brass Quintet.
  • The procession culminates with Santa’s arrival on a float depicting flying over the John Hancock Observatory, and the Allstate Fireworks Spectacular display serves as the grand finale.
  • All around The Magnificent Mile, visitors can enjoy holiday events throughout the business district. For example, find a new, 35-foot ComEd LED Holiday Tree at the John Hancock Center, or visit Santa’s reindeer along the Trump Riverwalk from 3-8 p.m. while enjoying hot apple cider and holiday seasonal treats.
For a complete schedule and a list of activities and holiday offers, visit www.themagnificentmile.com.
Become a fan of The Magnificent Mile on Facebook, explore The Magnificent Mile on foursquare.com/themagmile and follow real-time event updates and special deals on Twitter at www.twitter.com/TheMagMile.
WHERE: One of the Great Avenues of the World…