Lake Forest’s 29th Tree Lighting Ceremony

November 24, 2012

There must be a bit of magic connected to Lake Forest’s Tree Lighting Ceremony, for why would individuals return year after year to observe the big tree in Market Square be set ablaze with glowing lights? It is definitely the magic of the season that causes children’s faces to glow in anticipation of a visit from Santa.

Then to, the Holiday Season is a time of hustle and bustle for adults, with interludes of inspiring music and festive occasions with family and friends, all leading up to Christmas Day, which to Christians signifies the birth of Jesus.

Tradition is what drew me once again to Lake Forest’s 29th Tree Lighting Ceremony. Bundled up against the chilly wind and nippy temperature, I was eager to see what Art Below Zero would be sculpting in ice this year. Watching Max Zuleta carve Angel Wings out of ice, my thoughts wandered back to the day before and the seasonal Thanksgiving spring-like temperature, thinking at the time that similar weather would not have been kind to Max Zueta’s ice sculpture creations .

As tradition would have it, Ermanno Amidei, owner of the alley-like market place behind the formerly Marshall Field’s building, was once again roasting chestnuts with helper, Domenico Plandri. You are missing a real treat if you have never tasted a roasted chestnut! You can experience this culinary treat by visiting Lake Bluff’s Holiday Celebration next Saturday for a repeat of Emanno Amidei’s chestnut roasting.

Feeling the need to warm my hands I ducked into Talbots, but not for very long before hearing “Ho, Ho, Ho” which could only mean one thing: Santa was making his way to Market Square and greeting children along the way, eager for Santa to lend them his ear. I watched as Mrs. Claus carefully arranged a blanket on Santa’s listening bench so kiddies could sit comfortably beside Santa.

New this year was Raging Kitchen, hired to provide refreshments for the event. Through inquiry I learned that a Raging Kitchen Food Truck can roll up to your home to park, with a chef on board, to cook and then serve some jaw dropping, awe inspiring dishes with menus that change with the season. Raging Kitchens also does private catering and corporate events. Lines were long for the freshly baked donuts being handed out in small bags to each person from the Raging Kitchen truck.

With darkness approaching, I knew it was time to walk to the site of the sing-along on Western Avenue across from the fountain, led by Timothy Haskell, Director of Choral Music at Lake Forest High School, with his students, who freely participated even while on Thanksgiving break. It was a joy to see the enthusiasm of the students. How young they seemed to me, yet at one time I likewise felt so old, yet in reality was so young! This is Tim Haskell’s 27th year as Director of Choral Music at Lake Forest High School.

Prior to the final chorus selection, all eyes were directed to a platform erected to the right of the choir, Mayor James J. Cowhey, Jr., with his wife and three children, mounted the stage on which stood the old Lake Forest Railroad switch stored throughout the year at the Lake Forest’s Municipal Building. Cowhey’s daughter had the honor of switching on the lights.

With Lake Forest now festooned with lights, Tim Haskell led the chorus in the Hallelujah Chorus from Handel’s Messiah, another tradition, having inviting all in the audience who had sung this munificent choral work in the past as LFHS students to join the chorus.

With the singing of this glorious choral work, Lake Forest’s 29th Tree Lighting Ceremony became history, until another year when tradition mandates that Lake Forest will hold its much anticipated 30th Tree Lighting Ceremony.

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