Several hundred people gathered at Fountain Square in downtown Evanston this evening to kick off the holiday shopping season and light the city’s holiday tree — and we’ve got all the highlights captured on video.

The event featured carolers from the Music Institute of Chicago, a  flash mob from Northwestern Univesity’s Dance Marathon, and of course Santa himself, accompanied for the first time this year by Mrs. Claus, to light the tree along with Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl.

The tree lighting came a few days earlier than usual this year, and featured an expanded “Holiday Bash” theme with shopping and dining specials, music in stores and strolling singers, along with free trolley rides through the downtown area and free parking in city garages.

With relatively mild and dry weather this year, the crowd appeared to be much larger than on some cold and rainy tree lighting evenings in recent years.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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    1. No-name holidays

      Just give the city fathers and mothers a little while — they're bound to come up with something!!

      1. Who follows who

        Is our federal government following Evanston or is Evanston following the federal government. I say Evanston is leading the way. The federal goverment has only been taking Christmas out of Christmas for 4 years.

      1. Please proceed, Curmudgeon

        Curmudgeon, do you have a problem with people who don't celebrate Christmas?

  1. One Holiday at a time

    It would be lovely, especially in this diverse community of folks, many of whom don't celebrate Christmas, to wait til we have celebrated the holiday of gratefulness before we bring on the hype of our consumer holiday. Why the rush?  Maybe next year they can build a pyramid of canned goods for the soup kitchens instead of a poor dead tree burning precious energy as a proper pre thanksgiving celebration.

    1. Oh please.

      Oh please.  Maybe next year instead of your trivial complaining you can organize and build your own pyramid of canned goods for the soup kitchens. 

      1. Canned goods for the soup kitchens

        I agree, Anonymous, about the  trivial complaining and 'War on Christmas' nonsense, and the whiners should find a more productive way to spend their time.

        I just don't think that collecting canned goods for soup kitchens is the way to do it.  

        It has been pointed out many times that collecting canned goods  (like Mittens 47% Romney did after Sandy) is largely just a way to make people feel good, but is not an efficient way to help. 

        Most soup kitchens or food banks would prefer to purchase the food themselves  – they can buy in bulk, at better prices.  They know exactly what food they need, and can buy several large cans (or pounds or raw meat or vegetables) to prepare meals for large groups….this is much better than dealing with odd assortments of single cans.

        It is better to just give cash.. or volunteer your time.  I think that cash is better -I would prefer to see the soup kitchens and food banks hiring people and creating jobs.

        1. worthless input

          Your idea on giving is worthless. Let people give their best way, not just your way. Can goods almost always reach the people in need. Cash reaches the needy only about 75% of the time. You can bet that the COM scandal several years ago is not the only time money has disappeared.

          Also, the war on Christmas was pretty well documented. Even the Salvation Army's bell ringers were not allowed to say Merry Christmas during one recent year and many of the country’s largest changed Christmas into xmas. Thank goodness most xmas companies were embarrassed into going back to the Christmas theme.

          The war on Christmas has, for the most part, has been defeated, except here in Evanston where we have a holiday tree.

          There wouldn't be a tree if it wasn't for Christmas.


          1. Merry Xmas to all

            People can give whatever they want to whomever they want….but if people want to give wisely, and efficiently, it is best to send a check ( or credit card authorization) to a reputable organization. 

            As for your comments about xmas vs. Christmas, you are once again displaying the ignorance of a Fox News viewer.   Just look at the Wikipedia article on "xmas" to see the history of the term.  

            Right-wingers are never willing to do even a minimal amount of research before making false claims.  Snopes and Wikipedia  are good starts, but it seems that some people just like being ignorant.

            In fact, if you studied American history you would know that the whole 'Christmas' celebration has always had opponents, most notably among devoutly religious people.  The Puritans in New England were strongly opposed to Christmas celebrations on religious grounds, seeing the holiday as a Catholic holiday with pagan roots.  Presbyterians, Quakers and Baptists in the other colonies felt the same way. 

            You conclude with  "There wouldn't be a tree if it wasn't for Christmas"…again, do a little research.  Did Christmas trees exist in 1st century Palestine?  Did St. Paul decorate an evergreen while traveling around Asia minor?  No…the custom of xmas  trees is generally recognized as starting in medieval or renaissance Germany, and the worship of evergreen trees was common among pagans and the use of evergreens to symbolize eternal life is common among many ancient and modern cultures.



  2. Nice event

    What a nice event, the tree looks especially beautiful this year.  Thank you City for the tree, thank you downtown business owners for donating the downtown decorations and the lights on the tree. 

    It was nice to see all the families out together, nice to see the NU students take time out to participate, nice to see the Music Institute join in with their singing, the fire dept, everyone just having a nice evening out.   It was a simply nice event and all the participants seemed to have a good time.

    It all starts a little before Thanksgiving everywhere, so what.  All the petty complainers here can just stay home and cry.  Or better yet, get up off your whinny butts and organize something more to your liking.

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