Dear Members,

The BMO Harris Bank Magnificent Mile Lights Festival, though in an alternative format, came off without a hitch.  We are proud of our festive mile complete with decorations, community partnerships and special offers that will get you in the holiday spirit.  Just take a drive or walk along Michigan and you will be inspired by the lights, window displays and amazing deals.

We are thrilled that we were able to take the Lights Festival virtual powered by BMO Harris Bank, ABC 7 Chicago, and our friends from Walt Disney World – Mickey Mouse and Minnie Mouse.  We were also joined by many inspiring musical performers, including a closing number by Chicago’s very own local superstar, Jennifer Hudson.  

The TV special, hosted by ABC-7 news anchors Cheryl Burton and Alan Krashesky, ushered in the holiday season with style and grace. This year, Initial projections show a record 21.3B earned media impressions for The Magnificent Mile. The saying, “all press is good press,” never knew a year like this. Yet despite negative news cycles in response to immense challenges of the summer, we forged ahead to feature positive stories for our district whenever possible; and with the Lights Festival ended on a strong note with millions of viewers nationwide. Thank you again to the sponsors, partners, staff, and the Lights Festival Committee and volunteers who pulled off this amazing feat despite the pandemic.

A recent story by LeeAnn Trotter/NBC5 featured our Holiday Windows on The Magnificent Mile, a pilot program in storefronts available for lease to bring vibrancy back to the district. We engaged 15 cultural and community partners in this first-time effort along North Michigan Avenue, including Chatham, one of the neighborhoods where I lived in my early years. From this grassroots effort, we will continue to bridge downtown to our city’s great neighborhoods and aim for positive national news to showcase Chicago.

It is uplifting news to see the progress made with the vaccine, and a confidence booster that we will be able to get “back to business” in the new year. The Chicago Tribune reported the first shipment of COVID-19 vaccines arrived in Illinois on Monday, and we then watched as the first vaccines were administered at Loretto Hospital on Tuesday. The year 2021 holds the promise of an inflection point where the turn around begins as vaccinations roll out across Chicago around the world.

Anticipation is mounting by the day, so let us take time this holiday season to unplug and reflect. Relish in the holiday spirit as a bright spot on dark times we are leaving behind. Let us continue to look out for one another we navigate any challenges, plan for a strong recovery, and take advantage of opportunities we create in the new year. If we can make it through 2020, I know that there is only upside in 2021, especially as we continue strengthening our relationships and magnificent community.

Happy holidays! Stay safe and well!

Rich Gamble