CHICAGO (WLS) --Lights! Music! Magic! ABC 7 Chicago kicked off the holiday season nationwide with a live broadcast of The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival on its 25th Anniversary Saturday, November 19 at 6:00 pm.
Featuring Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse, Straight from the Walt Disney World Resort in Florida; Special Performances included Broadway in Chicago's STOMP; along with Disney Pop Band Trio Forever in Your Mind; country music star, Jo Dee Messina; Grammy-winning vocalist, Kurt Elling, pop singer Drew Lachey and the award-winning Blue Man Group.
Chicago Cubs World Series MVP, Ben Zobrist, along with his wife Julianna Zobrist and their children, also made a special appearance.
The magic of the holidays, Chicago style, was captured for viewers around the country when musical performances, beloved Walt Disney World characters, dazzling fireworks and more than a million twinkling Michigan Avenue lights set the stage for the live broadcast of the spectacular BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, Saturday, November 19 from 6-7:00 pm. Encore broadcasts will air Sunday, December 11 from 1-2 pm; Sunday, December 18 from 4-5:00 pm on ABC 7 Chicago. The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival was streamed LIVE on the ABC app and will be available on-demand at abc7chicago.com.
The hour-long special, showcasing the country's largest evening holiday celebration, was co-hosted by ABC7 Eyewitness News Anchors Cheryl Burton and Rob Elgas. ABC7's Janet Davies spotlighted Broadway shows in Chicago and ABC7 Eyewitness News Anchor Judy Hsu captured the magic from the street.
This is a milestone year marking the 25th anniversary of the sparkling Lights Festival and the 11th consecutive year this much anticipated tradition was broadcasted to Chicago audiences on ABC7, the most watched television station in the city. Throughout the holiday season, the special will also be watched and enjoyed by a national audience, via syndication. Broadcast times are available in local listings.
Ben Zobrist, Chicago Cubs World Series MVP, and wife Julianna Zobrist, singer, songwriter and author, along with their three children, Zion 7, Kruse 5 and Blaise 1, were a thrilling addition for all the exuberant Cubs fans attending the parade this year. Zobrist and family were featured on a special float celebrating the Cubs first World Series win since 1908.
In the first official parade of the holidays, Grand Marshal Mickey Mouse, escorted by the lovely Minnie Mouse, illuminated over one million lights on 200 trees along "The Magnificent Mile," one of the grandest avenues in the world. (Mickey Mouse has served as the Grand Marshal for the past 24 years; this is the eighth time Minnie Mouse joined him.) Appearing on an awe-inspiring float, the world's most famous couple led the way for more than 40 breathtaking floats, helium-filled balloons, including the larger than life Hubert the Lion; classic characters from the Walt Disney World Resort including newcomers Woody and Jessie from Toy Story; five lively marching bands from across the country and musical performances by top artists.
Viewers were treated to a foot-stomping opening performance by the cast of Broadway in Chicago's STOMP. The spotlight also shined on performances by Disney pop band trio, Forever in Your Mind; country superstar Jo Dee Messina; actor and singer, Drew Lachey; Grammy-winning jazz vocalist, Kurt Elling; powerhouse vocalist MARi, from Queens, New York; Chicago-based acapella group, The Remedy; and the award-winning Blue Man Group.
There was also a special greeting by members of the cast of Broadway in Chicago's phenomenal Hamilton and Disney's enchanting Aladdin.
Members of the ABC7 Eyewitness News team-- featuring Mark Giangreco, Eric Horng, Larry Mowry, Diane Pathieu, Sarah Schulte, Cheryl Scott and Windy City Live host, Ryan Chiaverini were spreading good cheer as they rode atop ABC7 Chicago's whimsical float during the parade.
The live broadcast's grand finale lit up the sky (and children's hearts) with a dazzling fireworks display over the Chicago River, just as Santa made his exciting arrival on the scene on a fantastic brand new float!