Chicago prepares to light up Mag Mile

November 21, 2009 6:16:28 PM PST
Thousands of people will jam Michigan Avenue for the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival Saturday.

On Friday night, musicians and dancers went through their paces rehearsing the number that will open the parade on Saturday. They will perform in front of an estimated one million visitors to the Magnificent Mile and millions more on television around the country.

Children's musician Ralph Covert adapted the opening number from the Nutcracker.

"A lot of people have put a lot of energy and effort into this," said Covert.

The lights are strung waiting for the switch to flip them on Saturday.

The tradition of turning the lights on for the holidays along Michigan Avenue actually dates back 50 years. But this will be the 18th year they have celebrated with a parade. And they have a full day of events including numerous family concerts on Pioneer Plaza.

John Williams brings his family every year.

"We come every year from St. Louis," said Williams.

Williams and his family come for the shopping. North Michigan Avenue after all is first and foremost a shopping destination. And businesses are already decked out for the holidays. The day after Thanksgiving may be the biggest shopping day for many retailers but here Saturday is the big day.

"We've done a lot of research...it's the largest shopping day of the year," said Jennifer Woolford, the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival chairperson.

The city closes Michigan Avenue from Wacker to Oak by late afternoon. Dearborn from Oak to Delaware also closes as the 30 floats and six marching bands line up for the parade led by none other than Mickey Mouse.

"He just loves seeing the lights and everything else...it's the kickoff to Christmas and Thanksgiving," said Katie Sellmeyer, Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.

The parade ends on the south end of Michigan Avenue at the river.

The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival will be broadcast live on Saturday evening on ABC7. Our coverage begins at 6 p.m.


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