Chicago chooses spruce from Darien as official Christmas tree

Diane Pathieu Image
Friday, November 3, 2023
Darien family donates official Chicago Christmas tree for 2023
The official Chicago Christmas Tree for 2023 will come from a Darien family.

DARIEN, Ill. (WLS) -- The 110th City of Chicago Christmas Tree, a 45 foot Colorado blue spruce donated by the De La Cruz family of Darien.

After watching it grow for 37 years, the De La Cruz family watched their beloved Colorado Blue Spruce come down,

"I feel a little sad, it feels like something is missing now," she said.

This is the City of Chicago's 2023 Christmas Tree, picked after daughter Abby De La Cruz wrote a letter to the city nominating it and sharing her family's story.

Abby's parents immigrated here from the Philippines, both healthcare workers. They met in Chicago, married and went on to work towards the American Dream: a house and a family.

"They raised us with their values and their traditions," she said.

The De la Cruz family celebrate their tree being picked by Chicago for Millennium Park.

One of those traditions was decorating this tree year after year, until it got too big to handle, so they decided to give it up to the city they love and say gave them so much.

"I am so proud so proud out tree was selected," Zenaida De La Cruz said.

"I was starting to talk, uh, like whispering to the tree saying I hate to see you go but you're going for a good cause," Efren Zenaida said.

There were 100 applicants this year, but this tree stood out most of all. And it's an exciting moment not just for this family, but for city workers that were part of the whole process:

"I feel so honored that the city and that everybody is still so excited to do this and have this moment I think in the times that we are in having these bright moments really important for our community," Neil Heitz, director of production for the City of Chicago, said.

So what will happen to this empty spot now?

It won't stay empty for too long. Darien's Mayor Joseph Marchese said the southwest suburb plans to provide the family with a new tree of their choosing to watch grow for many more years to come.

The tree will be moved Friday and cared for over the weekend and then moved into Millennium Park on Monday where it will then be decorated and lit up on November 17.

The tree-lighting ceremony will take place at 6 p.m. The ceremony will have fireworks as well as performances by DJ TREW, Meagan McNeal, Broadway in Chicago's Betty Boop, Chicago Dance Crash, Walt Whitman and the Soul Children of Chicago, Puerto Rican Arts Alliance's 2023 National Cuatro Festival with featured artists from Puerto Rico - Emma Colon Zayas, Maribel Delgado, Fabiola Mendez, with singer Celenia Sanchez Mata, and Santa and Mrs. Laura Lynn Claus.