Chicago continues a merry tradition with virtual tree lighting downtown

Despite the uncertainty of the times, the “official” city Christmas tree will be making spirits bright in Millennium Park through the holiday season.

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Chicago’s “official” Christmas tree sits lit up in Millennium Park on Thursday evening. This year’s tree lighting ceremony was held virtually because of an increase in COVID-19 cases nationwide. The tree will remain in the park until Jan. 7.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times

Many holiday celebrations are changing and adapting this year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but one Chicago tradition remains the same: the city has an official Christmas tree in Millennium Park for residents and visitors to enjoy.

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The lighting ceremony was, for the first time, a virtual event streamed Nov 19 on the DCASE YouTube channel. Through Jan. 7, 2021, groups of 10 persons or fewer who practice social distancing and wear masks can visit the tree, located near the intersection of Michigan and Washington, from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

This year’s tree is a 45-foot blue spruce donated by the family of Catherine Townsend of Morgan Park. There will be a specific entrance/exit to the park; details can be found at

There will be no skating at the Millennium Park ice rink this season, but skating will be available at the ribbon in Maggie Daley Park beginning Nov. 20. Reservations will be required and can be made up to two weeks in advance at Masks are mandatory for skaters.

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