Chicago tree-lighting ceremony kicks off a packed season of events across the city

People enjoy at the Christkindlmarket in downtown Chicago, Friday, Nov. 30, 2012. Each year, people from all over the world visit the Christkindlmarket Chicago. The outdoor market in the Chicago Loop has become so popular and loved by everyone that any Chicagoan will tell you that they could not imagine the city without it. Christkindlmarket Chicago is no longer just a German tradition, it has become a Chicago institution. The unique shopping experience, typical German food and drinks, as well as diverse holiday entertainment make the Christkindlmarket Chicago a preferred and popular destination. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh)

Chicagoans that attended the tree lighting festival on Friday evening weren’t put off by the very un-Christmaslike weather for the 104th annual tree lighting ceremony.

The even was supposed to last for half an hour but was shortened to about five minutes due to a thunderstorm and lightning.

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The tree was chosen earlier this month from 71 submissions. The official tree is a 62-foot-tall Norway Spruce grown by the Dorfler family from suburban Grayslake. Darlene Dorfler was in attendance for the ceremony. Dorfler recalled this history of the tree on the city’s website:

“The John Olsen family owned multiple lots on Garfield Blvd. Around 1930 John Olsen built a house on one of the lots for himself, his wife Doris, and daughters, Arlene and Thelma. They frequently traveled to northern Wisconsin and brought back tree seedlings that the girls would plant on the property. Many grew and flourished. During those early year, there were many spruce trees in the area. This tree was most likely planted in the late 30s or early 40s, and is one of the few that was never pruned, or removed.

We met the Olsen family in 1975 when we moved into the neighborhood. Arlene lived in the family home until 2012, when she passed away at the age of 91. In her later years, at Christmas time, Arlene would look at this tree and say it would be so wonderful to see it lit up for Christmas. We purchased the property in 2013, removed the house and cleared the lots but left this tree because it was shaped so nice. My husband, Frank, often said it would make a wonderful Christmas tree for the city or even Washington DC. The City of Chicago is making both of their dreams come true. It will be a Christmas tree for the City of Chicago and it will be lit up as Arlene always hoped it would be.”

The tree will remain standing in Millennium Park until January 6th, 2018.

If you’re still looking for other Christmas and holiday related events, there’s plenty going on over the next month. The Christkindlmarket is already in full swing at Daley Plaza with German food, gifts, and the always delicious Gluhwein. A second location in Naperville and a third one in Wrigleyville at the new Park at Wrigley are both to open on November 24th.

At the Museum of Science and Industry, a 45-foot-tree is decorated with 30,000 lights. Fifty other trees are also lit up by volunteers from various Chicago communities to represent different cultures and traditions for Christmas Around the World.

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Zoolights returns to the Lincoln Park Zoo on November 24-26, December 1-3, 8-23, 26-31, and January 1-7. Brookfield Zoo also has a lights festival on various dates.

Illumination at the Morton Arboretum opened this past weekend. It is open every day except Mondays (except January 1st). It will also be closed Thanksgiving Day (November 23rd), Christmas Eve and Christmas Day (December 24th and 25th).

And no, the CTA Holiday Train has not released its schedule yet but make sure to keep an eye out for that.

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