At Eli’s, we have three favorite days of the year: Taste of
Chicago, for that is where we served on first cheesecake outside of Eli’s the
Place for Steak (interestingly on Michigan Avenue right in front of Tribune
Tower on July 4th, 1980; the Eli’s Cheesecake Festival in September, because it
celebrates our people and our community and all things great about Eli’s
Cheesecake, and the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, which is the annually the
Saturday before Thanksgiving (this year on November 20th).
As Rick Kogan’s column in the Tribune recounts from 1992, I had an idea to
bring back a ceremony for the Greater North Michigan Avenue to light the lights
as a way to bring attention to holiday shoppings. Since that first Saturday in
November, the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival has become one of the country’s
largest holiday celebrations with great partners in Mickey Mouse and the Disney
Company and the Tribune Company.
Come visit us at the Winter Walk at Pioneer Court as we partner with the
Chicago High School for Agriculture Science and Jewel Food Stores to support the
Greater Chicago Food Depository by accepting donations of canned foods and in
return you get a slices of Eli’s Cheesecake.Also kids get to decorate a mini
slice of Eli’s Cheesecake with candy and other holiday goodies.
IT`S TIME TO TURN ON THE LIGHTS (Chicago Tribune)
By Rick Kogan.
Published: Sunday, November 15, 1992
One morning last week, as most people were displaying the intelligence to
hurry in out of a cold rain, we lingered to watch some city workers
tiny lights around the bare branches of trees along Michigan
Traffic was blocked in one of the southbound lanes as the men,
from a Streets & Sanitation truck painted springtime blue,
gingerly laced a
string of lights from a tree near Ohio Street.
“I do this carefully,“ said one of the men, perched in a basket at
end of a crane. “This is my favorite job all year.“
We understand. Seeing the lights brighten Michigan Avenue is one of
favorite things to see all year, a sure sign that the city`s streets (or
most of them) will soon be alive with holiday happenings.
Memories of the lights run deep, as they do for many. But, when asked by
friend when they actually were turned on, we didn`t know.
“That`s not surprising. You`re not old enough to remember when turning
the lights was a big deal, an event,“ said Marc Schulman, the
Eli`s Cheese Cake mogul and member of the board of the Greater
Avenue Association. “The lights have been a holiday fixture
for more than 40
years. Long ago, politicians and starlets would sometimes do the honors.“
In the 1960s, however, as the street was being transformed from
boulevard into a canyon of commerce, the lighting of the trees
longer an event but something that just happened around
That changes on Saturday when, born of a suggestion Schulman made at a
meeting of the GNMAA, the lighting of the lights will not only
event status but also kick off a coordinated holiday effort that
Michigan Avenue into a feast of holiday offerings.
At about 5 p.m. Saturday a procession-double-decker buses,
carriages, musicians, costumed holiday characters and
move east from Oak and Rush to Michigan Avenue. There
each building will turn on the lights on the sidewalk trees, block by block, as
the procession passes. When it reaches the Wrigley Building it will stop. Mayor
Daley will make
some remarks, carolers will lead the assembled masses in song
“It`s all meant to be fun, to really kick off the holiday season in a style
reminiscent of bygone days,“ said Schulman. “Of course, man of the street`s
businesses will benefit by a good holiday season, but we are trying
not to make this event itself a commercial venture.“
It is not possible to mention all the activities surrounding the lighting of
the trees-among them the unveiling of stores` holiday windows at 10
a.m.Saturday; entertainment in Water Tower and Seneca Parks on weekends
Christmas; an open house at the 1903 fire house on Chicago Avenue . .
. simply because there are too many.
“We think this will mark the new coming of age of
Michigan Avenue,“said Schulman. “Our hope is that the lighting of the trees
will become a holiday highlight.“