Magnificent Mile Lights Festival parade returns after COVID disruption – NBC Chicago

A sign that the holidays are approaching, the BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights festival returned to Michigan Avenue on Saturday.

While the in-person festivities were canceled last year due to the pandemic, this time around, hundreds of families lined the streets to watch the dazzling performers and light-up floats parade.

“Everyone is so excited that they bring a lot more energy to the whole event and the fact that we have the most time,†said Gail Spreen, President of the event.

Organizers say they hope the return of the festival will bring a sense of normalcy and give the local economy a financial boost.

“We’ve all been through tough times and we all deserve to come back and come back downtown to the city we love,†said Dan Russel, President of the Magnificent Mile Association.

The festival has become a tradition for many families, including Jeffrey Stuart and his grandchildren.

“There was a blizzard a year, and we’ve been through the blizzard and got here, and we’ve stayed in hotels here every year,†he said. “This is the first year that we haven’t been staying at the hotel.”

Stuart lives in Elmwood Park and says that every year his family sits in one place, spending time together and making memories.

“Stay true to your tradition and enjoy it,†he said. “When these kids grow up and when I’m on my deathbed, they’ll remember, oh you used to take us here every year, and they’ll have pictures.”

This year’s parade featured over 60 floats, including two new ones designed by Chicago Public School students.

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