DETROIT (WXYZ) — The holiday season in downtown Detroit is officially here.
Twenty-thousand shimmery LED lights are wrapped around the tallest, and now the brightest tree ‘the D’ has ever seen.
Crowds of families filled Campus Martius Park to watch the 18th annual Light up the Season Detroit tree lighting ceremony hosted by the Downtown Detroit Partnership and DTE Energy Foundation.
This was the first time for some attendees.
“My whole life, I never came to see the tree lit,” Ladonna Lyte said.
Things weren’t as bright last year with COVID-19 keeping people in the house.
“It was kind of sad. It doesn’t feel like Christmas when you aren’t doing the traditional things you always do. It’s nice to be able to get down here and do it again,” Lauren George said.
“Happy to be back!” Kristina Adebisi added.
Campus Martius isn’t the only lit spot downtown. Beacon Park is also getting festive.
Children also had a chance to light up their own Christmas tree.
“Christmas is our favorite time. Yes, favorite time of the year,” one child said.
Beacon Park is illuminated with interactive lighting features with more than 125,000 LED lights, including the must-see “Swinging Bells” light installation.
While families enjoyed live performances from bands and ice skaters, the Salvation Army is ringing in the holidays in front of the world's largest Red Kettle in downtown Detroit.
“This helps people remember there are those in need,” Timothy Meyer, the commander for the Salvation Army in metro Detroit.
Meyer says you can help put a smile on a family’s face this season with a small donation.
“We want to help them at least put food on the table, have a great holiday meal and have gifts for children and seniors,” he said.
As families head downtown to enjoy the festive fun and lights, local businesses are excited to welcome and feed them.
“We are just beyond grateful and ecstatic,” said Kristy Cook, the general manager at Central Kitchen and Bar on Woodward Avenue.
“Last year was tough. There was six of us that were working here. Right now, we have 22,” she added.
This is a positive sign that the holidays will look a lot different this year.
“Experience joy and gratitude. Happy Thanksgiving and Merry Christmas,” Tobi Adebsi said.
The rink will be open seven days a week, including holidays, through March 6, 2022. Walk-up rink tickets are available at Campus Martius Park with more information and pricing available on DDP’s website.