Choose Chicago, DCASE, and Mayor Brandon Johnson Announce Series of Neighborhood Holiday Activations
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The initiative seeks to drive foot traffic and regional tourism to local businesses in commercial corridors throughout Chicago
Chicago, IL (November 30, 2023) – Mayor Brandon Johnson, Choose Chicago, and the City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE), in partnership with local chambers of commerce and community-based organizations, announced today a program to support holiday activations and public events taking place in neighborhoods throughout the city. The initiative will drive foot traffic to commercial corridors and support small businesses in ten neighborhoods through public decorations, holiday events, and holiday-themed storefront activations. The program is part of Choose Chicago’s award-winning Neighborhood Strategy efforts and is funded by American Rescue Plan Act funds earmarked for supporting small businesses’ recovery in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is no shortage of fun to be had in Chicago during the holidays,” said Mayor Brandon Johnson. “Community-based celebrations, festivals, and parades allow us to showcase the beauty and diversity of our incredible city while also driving additional customers to small businesses in our neighborhoods. I am excited to participate in some of the festivities this year, and I encourage Chicagoans and visitors to support independent local businesses when doing their holiday shopping.”
The first activations launched in Humboldt Park, Pilsen, and South Shore over the Thanksgiving weekend to align with Small Business Saturday. These included the ESDC Pilsen Christmas Window Walk, which paired 20+ businesses along the 18th Street commercial corridor with 20+ artists to create holiday-themed displays that will remain up through the end of the year (residents and visitors can vote for their favorite displays by scanning QR codes positioned throughout the area) and tree lighting ceremonies in both South Shore and Humboldt Park.
“As the City’s destination marketing organization, Choose Chicago is tasked with promoting visitation in all of our neighborhoods,” said Choose Chicago President and CEO, Lynn Osmond. “These activations are meant to draw additional visitors to local businesses, and to enhance the efforts of our community-based partners to create meaningful holiday celebrations that can be enjoyed by all. We are proud to work with DCASE and Mayor Brandon Johnson to support a wide variety of cultural celebrations throughout Chicago’s neighborhoods.”
The next two activations will kick off tomorrow (Friday, December 1) in the Austin and Uptown neighborhoods. The Austin Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting will feature a live band and DJ, pictures with Santa for the whole family, free hot chocolate, a Kringle Market, Madison corridor decorations, and giveaways. At 5pm, the parade will travel from W. Madison St. and N. Laramie Ave. to the 15th District Police Station (5701 W. Madison St.), and the tree lighting is scheduled for 6pm. In Uptown, the 2023 Winter Walk on Wilson will feature sweet treats, warm drinks, and menu samples offered by local Uptown businesses and organizations along with live holiday music along the Wilson and Broadway commercial corridors, a pop-up holiday market, and photo ops with Uptown’s own Panda Claus.
"The Austin Chamber of Commerce is excited to announce the collaborative effort between the City of Chicago, DCASE, and Choose Chicago in sponsoring our 19th Annual Tree Lighting Ceremony on December 1st,” said Khalilah Johnson, Executive Director of the Austin Chamber of Commerce. “This joint initiative not only enhances the holiday spirit, but also fosters a sense of community, bringing residents together in celebration and joy throughout Austin."
Below is a working list of additional planned holiday storefront activations (some events have not yet been finalized).
- Saturday, December 2: Winter Lawndaleland Market in partnership with Light Up Lawndale
- Friday, December 8: Holiday Toy Drive/Posada in partnership with Little Village Chamber of Commerce
- Friday, December 8: Puerto Rican Steel Flag Lighting in partnership with the Puerto Rican Cultural Center
- Saturday, December 9: Annual Share the Love Winter Fest in partnership with Teamwork Englewood, Imagine Englewood If, and Growing Home
- Saturday, December 16: 43rd Street Holiday Décor, Holiday Event, and Storefront Displays in partnership with Bronzeville-based Quad Communities Development Corporation; there will be multiple other activations occurring throughout Bronzeville on December 16
- Saturday, December 16: Principle Barbers Timber Christmas Jazz Show in partnership with New Covenant Community Development Corporation
- Sunday, December 17: Miracle on 63rd Street in partnership with Teamwork Englewood, Englewood Branded
- Saturday, December 23: Paseo Boricua Parranda in partnership with Puerto Rican Cultural Center
- Saturday, January 6: Three Kings Day celebration in partnership with Puerto Rican Cultural Center
- Launch date TBD: Rooftop holiday decorations are planned along Devon Street and Western Avenue in West Ridge in partnership with the Rogers Park Business Alliance
“I am proud to support our neighborhoods’ chambers of commerce and other community-based organizations in putting together these holiday activations,” said DCASE Commissioner Erin Harkey. “These events are wonderful opportunities to build community and celebrate the diverse cultures of Chicago and their respective traditions around the winter holiday season. They also attract new customers to the local businesses in neighborhood commercial corridors that have served as pillars of our communities for generations and in many cases are still struggling to recover in the wake of the pandemic.”
The Choose Chicago website has extensive information about winter holiday-related activities happening throughout the city.
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About Choose Chicago
Choose Chicago is the official sales and marketing organization responsible for promoting Chicago as a global visitor and meetings destination, leveraging the city’s unmatched assets to ensure the economic vitality of the city, its residents and our partner business community. Follow @choosechicago on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok and X/Twitter and tag #ChicaGOandKNOW and #ChicagoNeighborhoodGems. For more information, visit choosechicago.com.
About Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events
The City of Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events (DCASE) supports artists and cultural organizations, invests in the creative economy, and expands access and participation in the arts throughout Chicago’s 77 neighborhoods. As a collaborative cultural presenter, arts funder, and advocate for creative workers, our programs and events serve Chicagoans and visitors of all ages and backgrounds, downtown and in diverse communities across our city — to strengthen and celebrate Chicago. DCASE produces some of the city’s most iconic festivals, markets, events, and exhibitions at the Chicago Cultural Center, Millennium Park, and in communities across the city — serving a local and global audience of 25 million people. The Department offers cultural grants and resources, manages public art, supports TV and film production and other creative industries, and permits special events throughout Chicago. For details, visit Chicago.gov/DCASE and stay connected via our newsletters and social media.