Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival kicks off tonight
The Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival lights Downtown for the 11th season during its ceremonial switch-flipping, the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kick-Off Extravaganza, on Thursday, Nov. 19 at 6 p.m. in Pere Marquette Park.
OnMilwaukee.com has been involved in this event since the beginning and I'm proud to say that I've been to every kick-off event. They are great, family fun and feature some of the best fireworks in town.
Festivities begin with a family fashion pre-show at 5:30 p.m. Participating retailers include Aala Reed, Boutique B'lou, Freckle Face, Fred, Laacke & Joys, Lela (yes, this is my wife's store), Luci, Luscious Boutique, Miss Ruby and Beauty on Water Street.
After the runway, it's on to the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kick-Off Extravaganza, a non-stop holiday variety show starting at 6 p.m. This year's cast features R&B funkmasters Cold Sweat and the Brew City Horns, Straight Praise gospel choir, characters from "A Christmas Carol," Castle of the Arts dance company, Danceworks and Santa. The program will end just before 6:30 p.m. with the lighting of Downtown's park and street décor, and a holiday-themed fireworks show.
Free hot cocoa, coffee and cookies will be served beginning at 5:30 p.m. while supplies last. After the show, visitors are invited to tour the sights with free Jingle Bus rides from Pere Marquette Park.
Decorations of the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival, including those in Cathedral Square Park, Pere Marquette Pak, Zeidler Union Square and along Wisconsin Avenue, Jefferson Street and Old World 3rd Street will remain in place through Jan. 3.
Following kick-off night, guests and area residents are invited to view downtown's holiday décor aboard the Jingle Bus, Thursdays through Sundays, Nov. 20 through Jan. 3 from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m., for $1 per person. The narrated tour by Milwaukee Downtown's Public Service Ambassadors offers 40 minutes of endless lights and sights.
The Jingle Bus will operate from the Festival's Warming House location at the Plankinton Arcade in The Shops of Grand Avenue, 161 W. Wisconsin Ave. Discounted parking is available in The Shops of Grand Avenue Parking structure for $2 with a Jingle Bus validation.
the wisconsin ave. street decorations are VERY lacking. first, the stars should face north/south AND east/west--4 sided, for traffic and shoppers from both directions to clearly see. second, the cross wires holding up these stars need to have garlands with lights. what is there is better than nothing as was the case 3 years ago. but, these decorations are not much. certainly, not worth a ride downtown to see. i realize private money pays for these lights. but, please do it right so we can be proud to show our out of city guests something we, truly, can be proud of. these decorations are a one time cost as they can be used year after year--invest more and do this correctly in 2010. also, the wreaths need to be checked DAILY for non-working lights on them. 2 years ago at times there seemed to be more NOT working--unlite wreaths, than working wreaths. thank-you.
Jeff -- I think a German Christmas market is a great idea! You should make it happen - do a bit of research on the Elkhart Lake and Chicago ones, then bring your ideas to Milwaukee Downtown and see if you can strike up a partnership. It takes all of us to make this a great city!
Jeff | Nov. 19, 2009 at 9:54 a.m. (report)
M, we're in Milwaukee because we're not cool enough for Chicago? I don't think so. We're here because Milwaukee's a great place. But that doesn't mean Milwaukee can't be better. And you don't make a city better by sitting back and just accepting the way things are.
M | Nov. 19, 2009 at 9:38 a.m. (report)
I'm looking forward to what Milwaukee has to offer! Unlike Jeff I'm going to take it for what it's worth and not comparing it to any other city but this one! If I wanted it to be Chicago I would move there, but clearly there's a reason we are in MKE and why we are not cool enough to be a Chi-town resident!
Jeff | Nov. 19, 2009 at 9:15 a.m. (report)
Most of the decorations downtown are an embarrassment to the city. Can you imagine Chicago's Michigan Avenue with goofy lighted animals and trees filled with junky-looking homemade ornaments? (No offense to the kids who made them--it's just the wrong venue.) Or an official tree with lights strung in straight lines, top to bottom? And what's Christmasy about blue lights? Sorry to be a curmudgeon ... I love the holiday season, but the displays here are small-town and corny. BTW, why doesn't the city have a German Christmas market like you find in Elkhart Lake and Chicago? Given the city's rich German history, you'd think that would be a natural.
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