Crowds return for in-person lighting of Grand Rapids Christmas tree to kick off holiday season

GRAND RAPIDS, MI – On Friday, December 3rd, the crowds returned to downtown Grand Rapids to celebrate the annual Christmas tree lights and officially usher in the festive season.

Last year, city officials held the event, which typically draws hundreds of people due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Friday night families gathered along Monroe Center Street NW, between Monroe Avenue NW and Ottawa Avenue NW, near the Grand Rapids Art Museum, to partake in one of the city’s popular Christmas traditions.

Related: Grand Rapids annual Christmas tree lights returns as a personal event

The two-hour event began at 5 p.m. with the lighting of the 12 meter high Christmas tree around 5:45 p.m. Families and friends got together, ate free s’mores and hot chocolate, enjoyed the entertainment and activities.

Entertainment included performances by Opera Grand Rapids and the Salvation Army marching band. Nutcracker figures from the Grand Rapids Ballet were also in attendance. The Grand Rapids Children’s Museum, Grand Rapids Public Library, Experience GR, Ford Airport, and Has Heart hosted a variety of family activities, crafts, and giveaways during the event.

Grand Rapids City Manager Mark Washington, businessman Charlie Secchia and attorney John Inhulsen flipped the switch that lit the tree. The event is jointly sponsored by Charlie and Elizabeth Secchia and John and Monica Inhulsen.

“The community knows when to light the tree, and Grand Rapids is officially open for the holiday season,” Evette Pittman, the city’s special events manager, told MLive in November.

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