Tree brings cheer

Shorewood’s Business Improvement District (BID) held a Tree Lighting Celebration on Saturday, December 5, from 6 to 7 p.m. The event is held annually and sponsored by BID to promote the community, local businesses and Shorewood.

“The Tree Lighting gets a lot of people so … we try to make it different every year and put it in a different area … just to showcase different parts of Shorewood,” said Jenny Heyden, BID Special Events Coordinator.

The celebration is usually held on the first Saturday in December, and the tree remains lit until early January.

Last year, the Tree Lighting was held at City Market and included Irish dancers and the SHS choir. This year, the celebration was held at Harry’s Bar & Grill on Oakland.

“Traditionally we do the Tree Lighting around the North Shore … but Harry’s has been very generous for this event, so that’s why they get the tree this year … it’s a nice location because there’s a lot of parking there as well,” said Heyden.

The Tree Lighting Celebration is one of BID’s major holiday events of the year, with the purpose of generating revenue for the shopping district.

“For different events we have different sponsorship levels, and for the holiday tree lighting, we put it out to all members of Shorewood’s business district,” Heyden said, “We basically ask all of our members [of the business improvement district] for funds … there are different levels of giving, and they get recognized [on the brochure and flyers]. The BID pays for it, but it is for the whole community.”

In previous years, the Tree Lighting Celebration was held alongside the Shop, Stop and Restore event, which included ice carving, free massages and other promotional services provided by local businesses.

“In years past, the BID has done the Shop, Stop and Restore … where we had the ice carvings,” Heyden said. “But [ice carvings] are very expensive and it doesn’t always guarantee someone walking into the store the Shop, Stop and Restore has been fun because they’ve had massages in different places and stuff … I think the stores found out was that people were only there for the free massages.”

However, this year, Shop, Stop and Restore was canceled and the Tree Lighting Celebration became the main event.

“The tree lighting has happened every year; it just hasn’t been the focus,” Heyden said. “The Shop, Stop and Restore has followed the Tree Lighting Celebration.”

“I think the BID board really kind of decides the event the BID is going to do and needs to benefit the business in a direct way,” Heyden said. “I think over the last couple of years, the Shop, Stop and Restore was not driving the traffic to businesses … so they wanted to switch it up a bit.”

As the BID’s main holiday event for this year, the Tree Lighting Celebration included a 14 ft tree, multiple Santas, SHS jazz ensemble and chamber choir, snacks and giveaways.

“The whole thing is from 6 to 7 p.m, but the tree lighting happens at 6:30,” Heyden said, “The tree last year was smaller … I think the tree lighting [this year] will be very festive; there will be candy canes … and North Shore Bank is giving away little jingle bells.”

The music and entertainment for the event was the SHS jazz ensemble and chamber choir.

“In the past we’ve had different kinds of music,” Heyden said, “But having our own people from Shorewood is great … it makes it much more organized and collaborative event I always like working with the school; it showcases our excellent performers.”

While members of the SHS choir sang holidays songs and carols, they also enjoyed the free cocoa and atmosphere of the event.

Members of the community who also attended the celebration felt it was a worthwhile and encouraging event.

“It’s very warm … and I think it’s lovely,” said Stephanie Maloney, resident. “I think the music is wonderful, and the community support is very enriching and warming … I’m excited to hear the choir sing and the tree [to light up].”

The Tree Lighting Celebration not only promotes local businesses, but also a fun holiday atmosphere that interests people.

“We are trying to … increase our effectiveness and make sure that we mix it up enough times that the effort is consistent and people are still interested in what we are doing,” Heyden said. “We have a thriving business district so it’s fun when people participate.”

by Shimana Bose

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