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Holiday trees: MSI presents Christmas Around The World
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Holiday trees: MSI presents Christmas Around The World

Holiday fans who love colorful trees, ornate decorations and other festive decor will want to plan a trip to Chicago's Museum of Science and Industry this year.

Joanne Carroll, coordinator for Benches on the Avenue., talks about this year's public art program that features bench on Aok Park Avenue decorated as album covers.

The museum's Christmas Around The World and Holidays of Light displays are up and sparkling once again this season. The holiday exhibit continues to Jan. 3.

In Christmas Around the World, guests will see a spectacular display of Christmas trees featuring lavish ethnic decorations and ornaments. Holidays of Light stars symbols, information and more about the major holidays of enlightenment including Hanukkah, Ramadan, Kwanzaa, Diwali, Chinese New Year, Visakha Puja Day and St. Lucia Day.

"The exhibit brings people together," said Jeff Buonomo, senior manager of featured exhibits at The Museum of Science and Industry. Buonomo said each year volunteers continue to help decorate the trees to "bring joy and share their cultures."

He said the display has been welcomed back in a big way by museum personnel as well as visitors since it pretty much was absent for much of last year due to the pandemic. In 2020, the display was up for only four days before it had to shut down. Then it was offered for virtual viewing for a limited time.

"There are 52 trees this year,"  Buonomo said, adding that Bulgaria is a new tree this time. Among countries represented by trees are France, Thailand, Greece, the Czech Republic, Ireland, Canada, Mexico, Kenya, the United States and others. Buonomo said this year there is a tree celebrating the Chicago Sky women's basketball team and its recent championship win.

Christmas Around the World got its start in 1942 during World War II and was a United Nations Day homage to the Allies. When it was first displayed, it was a scaled down event with about 12 trees displayed.

Volunteers from various ethnic communities and organizations annually gather to help decorate the trees in authentic fashion.

Buonomo said families enjoy celebrating the holidays with a visit to the museum and its iconic tree display.

"It's tradition," he said. "People remember coming here as a kid (and they like) sharing the experience with a new generation."

In the spotlight every year is the Grand Tree. This year, the 45-foot tree has more than 30,000 lights. The theme of the 2021 exhibit celebrates travel, Buonomo said. In the spotlight also is the museum's Grand Zephyr train and the exhibit Take Flight and the 727 jet.

Young guests who love the Jolly Old Elf will be happy to have an opportunity to take photos with Santa on the premises this year. Photo packages are available. Entry timed tickets are necessary for Santa photos. Guests may also take photos in front of The Grand Tree with photo packages available for that as well.

Like to shop? Visitors may also browse in the Holiday Shop at the museum for everything from ornaments and trinkets to apparel, candy and more.

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Entertainment Editor/Features Reporter

Eloise is A&E Editor and a food, entertainment and features writer for The Times, subjects she has covered for over two decades in and around the Region. She was the youngest of eight in a Chicago household filled with fantastic cooks and artists.

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