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Fun Facts About the 18th Annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

This year marks the 50th anniversary of the lighting of the trees along North Michigan Avenue, which was the first street in the world to adopt this annual holiday tradition in 1959. Prior to the full street lighting in 1959, The Greater North Michigan Avenue Association (GNMAA)  celebrated the start of the holiday season with an annual installation of a large star on the façade of the historic Water Tower. Each year  celebrities were invited to throw the switch and illuminate the star. Today, The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival procession is highlighted by the  illumination of one million lights on 200 trees along North Michigan Avenue.

  • Celebrities involved throughout the years in lighting up The Magnificent Mile® for the holidays include Carmen Miranda, Betty Grable,  Geraldine Page, Jerry Lewis, Jamie Farr, Kirk Cameron, Sherri Shepard from The View, Robin Roberts of Good Morning America, KT Tunstall,  Sister Hazel, Corbin Bleu, Jason Mraz, and a host of beloved Disney characters.
  • The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival as we know it today made its debut on November 21, 1992 with a procession of horse-drawn carriages that traveled from Oak Street to the Chicago River. Jamie Farr, best known for his role in the television series MASH was the celebrity Grand  Marshall.
  • The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival draws approximately one million spectators annually from around the country.
  • The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival takes 12 months to plan with the help of 800 volunteers.
  • Over the years, The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival has drawn many whimsical attractions including an ice sculpture made from 4,000 lbs of ice by the InterContinental Chicago, a 500 lb cheesecake standing four and one-half feet tall created by Eli’s and a life-sized Santa in his sleigh  made from LEGO and Duplo bricks.
  • The custom holiday-themed balloons that will join the procession in 2009 require up to 94 handlers who have to be trained at a special balloon school.
  • The sleigh vehicle used for Santa’s arrival in the procession in 2008 was made for the 1994 movie version of Miracle on 34th Street.
  • The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival presented by Harris culminates with a spectacular fireworks display at the gateway to The
  • Magnificent  Mile at Michigan Avenue and the Chicago River, using more than 10,000 handmade fireworks shells, courtesy of Lumina, Inc., a Chicago-based, family-owned company.

Related posts:

  1. Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights River Cruise and Other Special Offers
  2. Chicago’s Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Boasts a Star-Studded Weekend of Festivities
  3. Sleigh Full of Events, Giveaways and Deals Offered As Part Of The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival
  4. Doubletree Chicago Magnificent Mile Features 2-Hour Room Promotion Each Tuesday in February
  5. 28th Annual Holiday Magic Festival Lights Up Brookfield Zoo

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