The city officially lit Chicago's Christmas Tree in Daley Plaza to kick off the holiday season. This year's tree is a 10,000-pound, 57-foot Colorado blue spruce, nominated by the Atkinson family in Elgin.
"It's fun, I've been watching it on TV whenever the news has got it on I'm like, 'That's my tree!'" said Donna Atkinson. Watch the Video
The tree has 47,000 lights and 300 ornaments.
Crowds began gathering Tuesday afternoon as the Christkindlmarket was jammed with shoppers and sightseers.
"We come here every year, my parents are from Germany, so this is a good taste of the homeland," said Karen Duggen. "We usually go there every year and visit, we really enjoy it."
Special performances before the 101st annual tree-lighting ceremony began at 4:30 p.m.
Dee Snider of Twisted Sister performed a medley from Broadway in Chicago's "Dee Snider's Rock and Roll Christmas Tale." Hansel and Gretel from Emerald City Theatre's "Hansel and Gretel: A Wickedly Delicious Musical Treat" performed a song from their family rock musical.
Atkinson and her family joined Mayor Rahm Emanuel, Santa Claus and others to throw the light on the city's Christmas Tree around 5 p.m. Tuesday. The tree will be on display until Jan. 6.
A new "Santa House" opens to the public after the lighting program. Children can visit Santa and Mrs. Claus from 6-8 p.m. Tuesday.