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Emanuel Lights City Christmas Tree At Daley Plaza

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Hundreds of people turned out for the annual hoilday tree lighting ceremony in the Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza on Nov. 23, 2011. (Credit: CBS)

Hundreds of people turned out for the annual hoilday tree lighting ceremony in the Christkindlmarket at Daley Plaza on Nov. 23, 2011. (Credit: CBS)

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CHICAGO (CBS) – Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Santa Claus and a west suburban family punched the button lighting Chicago’s official Christmas tree, in Daley Plaza.

It was a bit disorienting for Aidan Spangler. The 55-foot Colorado Spruce sat outside his window in Western Springs his entire life until it was cut down and trucked to Daley Plaza.

“I think it’s really weird that it’s here in Chicago,” he said. “It’s our tree. It looks so small in the middle of all these big buildings.”

His father, Tom, said he liked the change of scenery.

“She looks great,” he said.

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Tom’s wife, Claudia, admitted that she cried when the tree was cut down and trucked to Daley Plaza earlier this month.

When Emanuel addressed the crowd, he sounded themes much the same as those retired Mayor Richard M. Daley voiced in previous years.

Emanuel said he and his family came to the ceremony after volunteering time at the Greater Chicago Food Depository to prepare meals for the needy.

“During Thanksgiving, to Hanukkah, to Christmas and to New Year’s, I’d like everybody to take a little time to do something for those who do not have as much as we have,” he said. “That’s what makes our city a stronger city.”

He also urged Chicagoans to remember the families of those serving in the military overseas.

“When people talk about that top one percent, it’s the people serving in our military overseas who volunteered to serve their country,” he said. “That is the top one percent.”

The crowd that jammed Washington Street was in the holiday spirit, and some stuck around for more than half an hour afterward, unlike recent years in which Washington was reopened to traffic in a matter of minutes.

Christkindlmarket once again is the backdrop for the tree in Daley Plaza. It will be open daily through Christmas Eve.

The market also features several shops, selling clothes, jewelry, Christmas ornaments and various artwork and crafts. It also has a number of German food vendors and bakery shops.

Christkindlmarket also includes Santa’s house, where kids can have their picture taken with Santa Claus on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays through Dec. 11, and then daily from Dec. 16 until Dec. 23 from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. each day.

Kids can also get their picture taken with Santa on Thanksgiving and on Christmas Eve, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.

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