'Tis the season: Chicago's Waldorf Astoria lights Christmas tree, Santa arrives at Woodfield Mall

The city is now a little bit more festive, as the Waldorf Astoria Chicago hotel lit its tree Thursday night.

It is impossible to not be in the holiday spirit in the courtyard of the Waldorf Astoria in the Gold Coast where 100,000 lights are lit up. The smell of evergreen is in the air and the folks who attended the ceremony say there is no chance it happened too early.

"When is it too early for Joy? When is it too early for lights? When is it too early for Snow? When is it too early for the merriness that the holidays bring?" said Jenny LeFlore of Bronzeville.

10-year-old Rosie Quinn, who is part of the Lurie Children's Hospital family, did the tree-lighting honors.

"It has truly been a winter wonderland for me. So magical. This is like every kid's dream to flip a big switch, I love it!" Quinn said.


And even though the forecast may not call for real snow until Friday, the Waldorf provided its own — a welcome sight after having to do everything virtually one year ago.

"All of us have been through a lot these last two years and so to be able to be here celebrating in person, really keeps us grounded on what we know is important," said Waldorf General Manager Todd Temperly.

Meanwhile in Schaumburg, Santa is already at Woodfield Mall. He was escorted out for the first time by the "Toy Soldiers" of Conant High School.