Despite Pandemic’s Economic Downturn, Loop Businesses Still Trying To …


CHICAGO (CBS) — It’s a tradition for many Chicago families: walking through the Loop, soaking in the holiday displays, and enjoying a winter wonderland. But can it be done safely this year?

CBS 2 Morning Insider Tim McNicholas shows us which holiday attractions will still be open in the Loop.

If you paint a picture of 2020, it probably won’t be full of celebrations.

“It feels great to kind of see the wreaths up on the posts, and to see people painting the windows, and just kind of bring a smile to people’s hearts, because it’s been a tough year” said Kiana Distasi, marketing director for the Chicago Loop Alliance. “It’s been quite a year for everyone.”

Decorations adorning Millennium Park, Michigan Avenue, and other parts of the Loop signal the end of a year of cancelled celebrations, but not even a pandemic can wipe out the Loop’s holiday cheer, or the work of the Chicago Loop Alliance.

What would Distasi’s message be to a family who is thinking, could we really do this this year? Could we really go downtown and enjoy the Loop?

“I think it’s really important for everyone to do what they feel safe and comfortable doing,” she said. “If you feel comfortable coming and going shopping, you can do that. If you just want to come and see the [Millennium Park Christmas tree], see Art on the Mart, there’s going to be this outdoor beautiful projection on the side of Merchandise Mart,” she said.

The Loop Alliance created an online guide explaining what restrictions are in place, and what’s still open.

“This tradition for Macy’s, at this location, of decorating on State Street dates back to 1870. They’ve done it every year,” Distasi said.

Marshall Field would be pleased to see that tradition going strong at the Marshall Field and Company Building that now houses Macy’s State Street store, but as a businessman he’d face a challenge today.

With Loop foot traffic down 65%, shops and restaurants are hurting.

“They want a strong holiday season. What they really want in the Loop, also, is for workers to be able to return safely at some point,” Distasi said.

Ice skating at Millennium Park is off limits this year, but the Maggie Daley Park ice skating ribbon is open.

Will there be restrictions in place to make sure people can do that safely?

“Yes, they’re capping. They have a reservation system, and they’re capping the percentage of amount of people to make sure that they’re also fulfillig and staying within all the regulations,” Distasi said.

It’s the end of a year of adjustments, heart aches, and worries; but if you painted 2020, above all it would be a picture of perseverance, an image of endurance. Perhaps that is worth celebrating after all.

The Macy’s window display on State Street was painted by two local artists with the group Paint the City.

The Loop Alliance said there are also some virtual options this year, including an online-only Christkindlmarket and the Goodman Theatre’s audio play of A Christmas Carol.


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