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City preps for tonight's holiday lights extravaganza

Posted: 2:15 PM, Nov 15, 2018
Updated: 2018-11-15 15:25:44-05

MILWAUKEE - Downtown Milwaukee will start to dazzle Thursday night when more than half a million holiday lights turn on to kickoff a seasonal city tradition. The night starts with the lighting of Milwaukee's Christmas tree.

The dancers are in step, and the singers are in tune —as everyone prepares to celebrate Milwaukee's 20th annual Holiday Lights Festival Kickoff —an event Greg Peterson, director of Milwaukee Downtown's Clean Sweep Ambassadors, looks forward to each year.

“Tonight is the night, it’s a big night. It’s been a few weeks in the making and it’s exciting,” Greg Peterson said. 

Excitement is what tonight’s extravaganza at Pere Marquette Park is all about. Flames will fly when the park hosts its celebratory variety show and the city’s largest switch-flipping ceremony turning on more than 500,000 holiday lights throughout downtown.

“I think seeing all the people that are coming out [is the best part]. For me, when the lights are going on and everybody’s kind of watching... I’m actually watching the people, I like to see their reactions,” Peterson said. 

The night begins with the lighting of the city’s Christmas tree at 5:29 pm, then the pomp and circumstance makes its way to Pere Marquette Park, but it doesn’t end there —Erica Chang with Milwaukee downtown said there’s a jingle bus, cocoa with Claus, and a heck of a lot more.

“I think it’s really about community and coming together and celebrating this time together,” Erica Chang said. 

The kickoff extravaganza starts with a pre-show at 5:30 pm and then the real show at 6:30 pm.