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Chicago's tree-lighting ceremony is Tuesday

  • A giant, 63-year-old Colorado spruce is removed Thursday, November 1, 2012 from the home of Barbara Theiszmann in Prospect Heights, to be erected in Daley Plaza in Chicago as this year's Chicago Christmas tree. The tree is 64-feet-tall, and the 99th annual tree-lighting ceremony will be held at the plaza Tuesday, November 20, 2012.
A giant, 63-year-old Colorado spruce is removed Thursday, November 1,… (Chris Walker/Chicago Tribune )
November 19, 2012|Leonor Vivanco, @lvivanco | RedEye

It's a tree lighting ceremony that rivals the Griswolds' family tradition.

Mayor Emanuel will do the honors at the 99th annual tree lighting ceremony at Daley Plaza and flip the switch at 5 p.m. Tuesday.

This year's tree, donated by the Theiszmann family of Prospect Heights, is a 64-foot-tall Colorado Spruce tree estimated to be 63 to 65 years old and weighs 12,000 pounds, according to the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events.

It was among 25 trees considered to be Chicago's tree and fit the criteria of being at least 55 feet tall, a spruce or fir tree and within 100 miles of the Loop.

The tree will be decorated with 14,600 multi-colored lights and topped with a brightly lit star.

A little history about the city's ceremony:

1913: The first municipal tree (35-foot tree decorated with 600 lights) was lit on Christmas Eve by Mayor Harrison in Grant Park.

1956: The city's tree, at 70 feet tall and decorated with 4,400 lights and more than 2,000 ornaments, was created from smaller ones.

1966: The tree lighting ceremony moved to what is now known as Daley Plaza.

1982: The ceremony moved to State Street and Wacker Drive.

1983: The ceremony returned to Daley Plaza.

1991: Mayor Daley asked for a single tree to be transplanted in a city park after the holidays. But the largest city workers could find was a 35-foot-tall tree, which wasn't big enough for the plaza's open space. The city's tree was made of 17 trees and stood 50 feet tall.

2009: The city selected a single tree for the first time since 1955. It was donated by the Weivoda family of Palos Heights.

2010: A contest was held to select a tree. A 70-foot spruce from McHenry was picked.

2011: A 55-foot Colorado Spruce tree donated by the Spangler family of Western Springs won the contest.

Source: Chicago Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events

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