On Saturday, my family was blessed to spend the day at the Magnificent Mile Festival of Lights as guests of Chevy. The Festival is an all-day event featuring concerts, games and crafts, shopping and food that culminates with a Tree-Lighting Parade on Michigan Avenue and Fireworks Display over the Chicago River.
Festival Plaza was located in front of the NBC Tower, and it was buzzing with activity starting very early in the morning. By 11:00am when the day's concert series kicked off with Just Roberts and the Naptime Players, there were lines snaked all over the place to participate in things - but people were in the holidays spirit so it was a pleasant crowd. After a light lunch, our kids were ready for the crew from Radio Disney with Olivia Holt and Shane Harper. The music was great, the weather was perfect, and we had fun singing and dancing in the plaza. After Shane Harper's set, there was a meet and greet with him and Miss. Holt - who also play two popular characters on the hit DisneyXD shows "Kicking It" and "Good Luck Charlie". Chevy was gracious enough to supply us with wristbands for this, and our girls were able to have a quick minute with the stars to say "Hi" and get their autographs (along with 250 other people!). They were both a little star struck but all smiles when it was done.
We, of course, made it a point to stop by the Chevy Vehicle Display area and checked out the gorgeous cars that were featured: a Traverse, Malibu and Spark. Princess M was in love with all three and couldn't decide which one she wanted to take home. (Look out, Connie, I think you've got another future Chevy advocate on the loose!) I kept the tid-bit about the Spark coming in a color called "Techno-Pink" to myself! Hmmm . . . . on second thought I might want one of those in the fun "Jalapeno" color for myself!
We grabbed a quick early dinner, and made our way to the parade organizing and loading area. Chevy had made arrangements for our family (along with a dozen or so others) to actually PARTICIPATE in the parade with them! A Chevy vehicle would be used as the official parade pace car (a beautiful 2013 Camaro convertible), as well as pull several of the large floats. It was decided that we would walk behind the pace car, dressed in our Chevy hats, and handing out glow sticks to the crowd to light the way for Micky and Minnie. The concept of the parade is that Micky and Minnie are lighting the trees along Michigan Avenue - so everything is dark until they pass it and then they light up. Their float was 3 behind us; the order was police car, pace car, another Chevy car, 2 flatbed trucks with beacons on them and then Micky and Minnie's float. Our kids were great - especially the 2 youngest ones - with all of the waiting, standing, and patience required with getting ready. Once the parade started it was such an incredible rush!! We were handing out glow sticks, smiling and waiving! The kids were laughing, and trying to make sure that other kids got glow sticks! The procession started on Oak Street, and our group was completely out of our first run of glow sticks before we even got to the corner of Michigan Avenue. It's so hard because you want to give one to everybody and there just aren't enough. As we were standing at the corner of Michigan and Oak, waiting for the timing to be right (along with the live television broadcast), Princess M looked at me and said "Mommy, I'm tired". Fortunately for me, we were standing next to the pace car and my dear friend Johanna Cook (aka Momma Cuisine) was riding in it with her two children and I was able to pop her in with them. And then we started!
It's an incredible feeling to walk down the middle of Michigan Avenue with hundreds of thousands of people everywhere, cheering and screaming. Once we ran out of glow sticks for good, we all just walked and waived and wished everyone "Happy Holidays". By the time we got the the performance area where the broadcast for ABC7 was, our group of walkers needed to clear the street for the performances. It took us quite a while to get back to the parade participants (think an Amazing Race-like challenge to meet back up with your group/kids/car/stuff in cars while navigating your way through almost a million people). It seemed like forever, but we made it (with the incredible navigation skills of Fred Ligouri) and were able to catch the end of the parade as it traveled down Wacker, along with the fireworks. Meanwhile, Johanna took amazing care of Princess M (who made fast friends with Johanna's daughter) until we could all meet up again. Once the parade and fireworks had ended, we regrouped at the Hyatt Regency Chicago (where Johanna had taken the kids for dinner) to sit and RELAX!
We had a wonderful, busy, amazing day filled with friends and once-in-a-lifetime experiences. Word cannot express how grateful my family is for the opportunity to represent Chevy at this amazing event, and how appreciate we are to have been included. I'm still pinching myself!
*Disclosure: My family was invited to this free event from Chevrolet. All of the concerts in Festival Plaza were open to the public, and the wristbands for the Meet & Greet were available to the first 250 people who stopped at the Chevy Vehicle Display area and took a guided tour/answered a questionnaire (which we did). In return for our participation in the parade, we were given a Chevy hat and bag that we carried glow-sticks in. I was not asked for anything in return other than to bring my family and have a great time. Let's face it, I blog about everything so why wouldn't I blog about something this AWESOME that we got to do?