Posts Tagged Lights Festival
Mickey Mouse Comes to Chicago to Get the Lights on North Michigan Avenue Ready for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
Come next Saturday evening at 5:30pm, one of Chicago’s great holiday traditions will magically take place on Michigan Avenue as Mickey Mouse leads the 18th Annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival now presented by Harris; two days of activities on the Magnificent Mile that welcome the holiday season with shopping, dining and entertainment.
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is a very important event at Eli’s as our President, Marc Schulman, was the Founding Chairman of the Lights Festival. As then Secretary of the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association, Marc, with other volunteers and staff saw the potential to create an event on the Saturday before Thanksgiving to “light the lights” of the Magnificent Mile.
A special tradition of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is a early visit to Chicago by Mickey Mouse to make sure that the lights are in place and ready to go on the Saturday before Thanksgiving.
Eli’s Cheesecake President and Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Chairman Marc Schulman joins Mickey Mouse for an early morning testing of the lights on the Magnificent Mile.
The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is sponsored by the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association, a group of over 700 businesses and institutions that enhance, protect and promote the Magnificent Mile. GNMAA Vice President of Communications, Ellen Farrar, is the Author of Arcadia Publishing’s “The Magnificent Mile” which details the history of the Magnificent Mile, the 50 years of lighting the Avenue and the history of the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.
Mickey Mouse is welcome to Chicago by Jennifer Woolford, of the Merchandise Mart, and the Chair of the 2009 Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and John Chikow, a Lights Festival Chairman and now CEO of the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association.
Eli’s Cheesecake Celebrates Mickey Mouse’s arrival in Chicago for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival with a party for the children at LaRabida Children’s Hospital
For the 11th year, Mickey Mouse will magically light Michigan Avenue this Saturday at 6pm as leads the procession for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival. This is a special weekend for Mickey Mouse as he will celebrate his 77th birthday this Friday, November 17th.
To welcome Mickey to Chicago, we hosted a very special party for the children and staff of La Rabida Children’s Hospital, which is located in a historic structure at Jackson Park and Lake Michigan. For over 100 years, La Rabida has provided family centered health care dealing with the important health care issues of the time, which now include chronic illness, disabilities or abuse.
To make the party complete, we were joined by Grape Jam, the highest chorus of the Francis W. Parker School, which serenaded Mickey with “When you wish upon a Star” and Happy Birthday.” It was festive day for all.
Mickey arrived at La Rabida to cheers and applause by staff and children.
Eli’s Maureen Schulman welcomes Mickey to the party.
Mickey poses with Grape Jam, the advanced choral ensemble of Francis W. Parker School.
Eli’s was well represented at the event by Pastry Chefs Tonya and Laurel, as well as special helpers, Nate, Mary, Sharon, Debbie and Laura. Also special thanks to Mark Bouchard for getting our cake to La Rabida on time.
Mickey brought great joy to the very small and to the adults who care for them at La Rabida,
Eli’s,Marc Schulman and La Rabida President and CEO, Paula Jaudes, thank Mickey for his visit to the children at La Rabida.
Magnificent Mile Lights Festival XIII–a great success for Eli’s & the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association
We just finished my third of the top three weekends of the year; first is the
first Saturday of Taste of Chicago, when we celebrate the birthday for Taste of
Chicago and Eli’s–in 2005, it will be the 25th for Eli’s and Taste to be
celebrated on Saturday; and second is the Eli’s Cheesecake, which will be on
Saturday and Sunday, September 17 and September 18th in 2005
The third big weekend is the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, which occurs
on the Saturday before Thanksgiving; in 2004 on November 20th.
The event was a huge success with over 800,000 people lining Michigan Avenue
for the procession. The Sun Times had a great cover on Sunday acknowledging this
event for kicking off the holiday season in style and for the leadership of the
Greater North Michigan Avenue Association. As the Founding Chairman of this
event, it is so great to see it grow and for me to work with such dedicated
volunteers, staff and partners like Walt Disney Attractions and the Chicago
For Eli’s, the Lights Festival Saturday is one of our busiest of
the year. It is the first day for our Holiday Dock Sales (the other two being
December 10th and 17th this year). This is an opportunity for our fans to see
the whole range of our products and to get some great bargains. If you missed
the November dock sale, visit us in December when we are partnering with our
neighbor, Spectra Merchandising International, to offer a special sale on Eli’s
products and unique electronic offerings.
On Michigan Avenue, we had a prime location on Pioneer Court to display our
giant Lights Festival Cake and to offer free Eli’s Cheesecake slice decorating
for kids and adults alike. We very much appreciate the support of the students
from the Chicago High School for Agriculture Science who helped us serve over
5,000 slices of cheesecake that day alone. We also appreciate the support of
Jewel Food Stores who helped us promote the event and our food drive in
connection with the Greater Chicago Food Depository. We had a great turnout of
food donations and cash donations which mean so much in the fight to cure hunger
At 6pm, the procession to “light the lights” headed up Michigan Avenue from Oak
Street to the River. It was my pleasure to be part of a “Legacy of Leaders of
GNMAA and the Lights Festival. Here is a photo with Past Chairman Camille Julmy,
42nd Ward Alderman Burt Natarus, me, GNMAA Chairman Basil Kromelow, and Past
Lights Chairman and owner of Harry Caray’s, Grant Deporter and a photo of our
guest of honor, Mickey Mouse.
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.“