Tomorrow begins the traditional Chicago, and the Chicago area, Holiday celebrations returning from their hibernations….first up the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival for its 30th Anniversary…did you know that Saks Fifth Avenue, Chicago started the tradition of lighting the trees many years before when they first were discovered and the tiny lights brought to Chicago by Mr. Silvestri from Italy and shared with Saks Visual Display Director, Joe Kreis.
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!!!!
The Chicago Tree is brilliant in Millennium Park….
And there is SO much more….
Check Lincoln Park, Chicago Botanic Garden…etc…etc…etc…and then there is Christmas in Blue Island
And the return of RandolphStreet Market Holiday as a Popup for three December weekends….hurrah!