The festival of lights is a parade on the magnificent mile (North Michigan Avenue) where they turn on the lights for the holiday season and start the festivities for the year. The first float is Mickey and Minnie Mouse from the disney parks and as they go the lights turn on. Other disney characters and cast show up throughout the parade with guests from upcoming or showing movies and musicians. There are also local things, such as the local news station, companies and sports teams. Like most holiday parades it ends with Santa. After the parade there are fireworks that go off by the river.
This is my third time attending the festival of lights and every year there is something different and the group I go with is always different as well as the place I stand. My first year we found white tents filled with free goodies, such as vegan friendly marshmallow’s from Whole Foods that you could make into snow men. There were stands with Cuties (a brand of tiny oranges, my friends and I got a ton of them) and a lot of other things. The second year I went I was no where near the tents but with instead we had a blast standing on the sidewalk cheering on the floats that went by. It kept us amused as well as the people around us and the floats that stopped before us.
This year we arrived late, but still got to enjoy part of the festival. Public Transportation is packed the later you wait, people will try and pack onto already full trains despite the conductors warnings. Driving is probably pretty bad as well due to the thousands of people and children that show up for the parade. The earlier you get there the better, the later the more likely you’ll be squished between masses of people, some trying to get closer or just trying to get somewhere. Also the weather depends, most years it’s rather cold so dressing warmly is always a good idea, especially in case it’s going to be windy and cold. After the parade (it starts around 5:30pm and ends at around 7pm) everyone leaves and usually filter into the nearby places to eat. Cars also get stuck trying to get through the crowds, so it’s easier to just walk with the hundreds of people wherever it is you need to go and find some place to eat along the way.
This year one of my favorite floats (outside the usual disney characters or Santa) was for Garrett’s popcorn. This year they had a two part float, they had one of their vans pulling a float and they were throwing bags of popcorn into the crowd. On the second float they had people dressed up and making popcorn.