CHICAGO (CBS) — With the milder temperatures, it was the perfect night for a parade and the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival didn’t disappoint.
It culminated with a fireworks show over the Chicago River, but hours before that, an estimated crowd of more than one million people packed Michigan Avenue for the annual kick-off to the holiday season.
Hearts were filled with holiday cheer as bands, hometown heroes and Disney characters made their way down Michigan Avenue. Kids of all ages hoped to see their favorite.
8-year-old Rory Brown said his favorite part was, “seeing Goofy and the Chipmunks.”
For many families the Mag Mile Lights Festival is an annual tradition, for others, the beginning of a new one.
“Grandma suggested doing this before the circus so we thought why not,” said Jason Murr.
“It’s a nice evening it’s not freezing tonight so we thought it would be fun for the kids to check it out,” said Kristy Browning.
And for all the hotels, restaurants and retailers that line the Mag Mile, big crowds mean big business.
“The Magnificent Mile Lights Festival is an extra six shopping days,” said John Chikow, President & CEO of the Magnificent Mile Association. “We have a number of businesses that tell us that this is as big a week, a day, as Black Friday.”
“We hit the Disney store and then we went up to the American Girl Doll store,” said Malerie Busche.
But of course it’s the parade that has many in the crowd coming back year after year.
“It’s a little idea of how to start and then it’s Thanksgiving and then it’s Christmas so it’s a great time,” said Theresa Larosiliere.
All of her kids agree.
This is the 23rd year for the Mag Mile Lights Festival, and so far, Chicago Police say there were no incidents associated with it.