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Last year I attended my first Christmas Tree lighting ceremony at Fashion Island in Newport Beach, CA. Honestly, before last year I didn’t realize how many places had tree lighting ceremonies. I have heard that one of the best tree lighting ceremonies takes place at The Grove in LA. Of course I had to check it out to see if it was true. I will say the ceremony is beautiful and really special but it is also very unorganized and extremely crowded. The ceremony took place on November 14th and had special appearances from Seth MacFarlane, Meghan Trainor and Katharine McPhee. Here’s a fun fact about the tree at The Grove it is taller than the tree at Rockefeller Center in New York.
I went to The Grove Christmas Tree lighting with a friend of mine who had gone to the ceremony two years ago. The last time that he went to the ceremony the viewing area was first come first served and some of the fans who arrived early were able to meet some of the performers during soundcheck. The ceremony is free to attend but you will need to pay for parking. We decided to get to The Grove at 1:30pm so that we could try and get a good spot. Once we got to the staging area we learned that they were not going to let fans in the viewing area until 5:00pm. I found that very odd since there were multiple signs posted saying that stores would be closing at 4:00pm. We were also informed that at 4:00pm The Grove would be cleared of people and then everyone would be allowed to come back in and get a spot for the 7:00pm show.
We spoke with several employees to make sure that this information was accurate and we were informed that it was. So we spent some time at the Farmers Market before we became the first people in the line to re-enter The Grove for the ceremony. Since there was a lot of confusion we checked with five different employees about where the line would begin and they all told us the line would begin where we were. When it was ten minutes till 4:00pm I found it very strange that we were the only ones in line. We decided to go see what was happening only to learn that the viewing area had already opened up.
I was pretty upset that we were trying to follow all of the rules which did not help us out at all. Instead of having a front-row view, which is critical to my being able to see since I’m very short, I was stuck behind rows of tall people. It is really disappointing to spend a lot of time waiting for something only to not be able to fully enjoy it because people block your view. There were a few moments where someone would temporarily move and I could see the performers heads but for the most part I wasn’t able to see too much. It was also very obvious that they were not limiting the number of people in the viewing area because at one point I could not move without bumping into other people which is not a fun way to be for several hours.
7:00pm finally came and I was thrilled for the show to get started so I could watch what I came for and leave because I was over the crowd by that point. Seth MacFarlane had been promoted as the host of the show yet it wasn’t Seth who came onstage when the show started. Some man who appeared multiple times between 7:00pm and 7:30pm was acting as the host of the show which made me think that Seth was no longer coming. Every time he spoke he sounded like he was doing an infomercial for The Grove. When he wasn’t speaking three women who sounded like chipmunks and call themselves The Beverly Belles came onstage to sing. After their first song, the crowd didn’t want them to come back and booed when they reappeared. For some reason, these ladies got to sing more songs than Meghan Trainor and Katharine McPhee.
In between songs from The Beverly Belles some of the professional dancers from Dancing With The Stars appeared to dance & promote their live final on November 24th which will be filmed at The Grove. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti made an appearance as did a councilman. By this point, the crowd was very restless because more than thirty minutes had passed since the ceremony started but none of the advertised guests had made an appearance. Finally, Seth MacFarlane was brought out on stage.
Seth is a very interesting and sometimes controversial person but I do think that he has a very nice voice. Accompanying Seth was a 70 piece orchestra who made everything feel very magical and full of holiday cheer. Meghan Trainor came on the stage and sang a duet with Seth called Little Jack Frost Get Lost. Meghan also sang a cover of a Justin Bieber Christmas song which was surprisingly good. Seth sang a few more songs before bringing Katharine McPhee on stage to sing two songs. Seth ended his portion of the show with White Christmas during which fake snow began to fall and it was really pretty.
After Seth sang his last song a group of dancers came out and sang a song about Santa Claus. At the end of their song, Santa appeared to light the Christmas tree. Fireworks went off when the tree was lit and I was very impressed with how long the fireworks show was. The tree was very beautiful and the ceremony was quite impressive. However, I do think that everything that happened before Seth came out could have happened much earlier since it was more of a pre-show. And I hope in the future that the viewing area is better organized so that people are given the correct information on when they can enter the area and get a good view.
If you are looking for a fun Christmas event with celebrities this is a great option. How can you have the best possible experience at next years tree lighting? I wouldn’t recommend showing up before 3:00pm since they won’t let you in the viewing area any earlier than 4:00pm. If you have a Citi credit card you can get a complimentary VIP dinner and watch the show the Blue Ribbon patio. I just learned about this and the reason it is free to Citi card members is that Citi is a sponsor. It did fill up very quickly but it was open to anyone with a Citi card. For next year you will want to join keep an eye out on The Grove’s website and when prompted put in the first six digits of your Citi card to claim your VIP spot. You are able to reserve four tickets per Citi card. Having experienced the show from the public viewing area which was a hot mess I can only imagine how much better the experience is from the VIP section.