Evanston kicks off holiday season with tree lighting


Olga Gonzalez Latapi/The Daily Northwestern

Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl addresses city residents Friday to kick off celebrations at the downtown Holiday Bash. Residents gathered around Fountain Square to meet Santa and watch a tree lighting.

Olga Gonzalez Latapi, Reporter

Fire trucks, a flash mob and a visit from Mr. and Mrs. Claus were all a part of the Chamber of Commerce Holiday Bash & Tree Lighting ceremony, in which Evanston rang in the official holiday season Friday evening.

Downtown Evanston invited residents to enjoy free food and live music during the celebration. Evanston Mayor Elizabeth Tisdahl and Santa Claus then led the tree lighting.

Tisdahl said the Holiday Bash is a launching platform for the holiday shopping season, and she expressed hope that it would help promote local businesses.

But ultimately, “it’s important to have a good time,” she said.

About 200 people gathered around Fountain Square to see Tisdahl arrive with Santa and Mrs. Claus in a fire truck. After a short speech, the mayor turned on the lights draped around the tree that will occupy the square throughout the holidays.

Downtown Evanston director Carolyn Dellutri said one objective of the Holiday Bash was to provide a venue for Evanston residents to interact with businesses.

“This year is much more about engaging the business community,” she said, explaining that last year’s event was limited to only a tree lighting.

Businesses collaborated to deck out the downtown by decorating their storefronts with seasonal themes. Many restaurants and cafes also distributed hot chocolate, cookies and cider to passers-by. Those attending the event had the opportunity to travel via a trolley sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce to different parts of the celebration, which included performances by local musicians held in participating stores and restaurants. A Northwestern flash mob then performed to promote the this year’s Dance Marathon, using the Holiday Bash as an opportunity to start canning.

After the tree lighting, Evanston residents dispersed toward downtown businesses. Others made their way to see Santa or donate winter clothing to Hilda’s Place, an emergency shelter for the homeless.

Evanston resident Abby Shay said the Holiday Bash was an excellent opportunity for families to gather and spend time together.

“It’s nice to see all generations out and people kind of excited about the neighborhood and the community,” Shay said.