THE MAGNIFICENT MILE LIGHTS FESTIVAL
On Saturday, November 19th, BMO Harris Bank presents the 25th Annual Magnificent Mile Lights Festival.
Can that be possible? Let’s take a brief look back even further to see where it all began. I was sitting in the office of the General Manager of Saks Fifth Avenue, Hal Clyne, in a meeting with the Display Director (would now be called Visual Merchandising Director), Joe Kreis, discussing the upcoming Holiday season. At the time, and for many years, I managed the Holiday Boutique which housed the best of the best of the Store’s merchandise that I personally edited and styled for the shop. It started the day after Thanksgiving and went away on Christmas Eve. Joe was very excited about new information he had just received. He used a display company to buy props and have props made for the many windows we had on Michigan Avenue (the Store was then located on Michigan Avenue and Erie Street it moved to 700 North Michigan Avenue in 1990). The company was Silvestri. Joe and Mr. Silvestri were fast friends and Mr. Silvestri had told him about a discovery he had made while in Italy. Strings of tiny lights… At the time we had a lighted outline of a Christmas tree that went from the main floor to the fifth floor (the addition hadn’t been built). This tree was sold to Charles A. Stevens on State Street. What Joe wanted to do was festoon the elm trees in front of the Store with these lights….well the rest, as they say, is history, to say the least! Hal said go for it although he hesitated about the cost if memory serves me correctly, each tree was around $250, but it might have been less. The year, 1959!!!!
Obviously, this beautiful sight has not only grown in Chicago and covers all of Michigan Avenue trees but the bee lights are used all over the world. While sitting in another meeting, this time with the Greater North Michigan Avenue Association, talking about the lighting of the trees and how you would walk out in the evening and the trees were all glowing. It was suggested that something more special, more elaborate happen, that is how the Lights Festival happened…starting small and growing to the exceptional special event it is today.
Since Thanksgiving is next week I wanted to share a recipe that is tradition in the Ivon household. Very easy and truly delicious.
From Nena’s recipe box
Hot Carrot Mold
Grease a ring mold well, preheat oven to 350.
Mix the following as listed:
1 cup Crisco (regular Crisco not buttered and must be Crisco do not substitute, don’t worry it doesn’t taste like Crisco!)
1 cup dark brown sugar
Add 2 eggs
2 cups grated carrots
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1 1/2 cup flour sifted with 1 teaspoon baking powder and 1 teaspoon baking soda
Bake for 40 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t overbake. Loosen around the center hole of the pan and around sides turn out onto a platter.
Note: You can make the batter the day before serving and keep in the refrigerator warm to room temperature and bake. Is great for leftovers…just heat until heated through. Also freezes well. I usually cut into individual servings if I freeze any leftovers.
Enjoy Turkey Day!!