In Holiday Guide

Students from MPS' Academy of Accelerated Learning are among nearly 3,000 that will decorate trees in Cathedral Square Park this holiday season.

Schools begin decorating Holiday Lights trees in Cathedral Square Park today

The 20th annual Milwaukee Holiday Lights festival kicks off on Nov. 15 and brightens Downtown for the duration of the holiday season. As always, a big launch ceremony is slated for 6:30 p.m. at Pere Marquette Park on Thursday, Nov. 15.

But today, the first groups of students from area schools visit Cathedral Square Park to decorate trees as part of the square's transformation into "Community Spirit Park."

One hundred schools and nonprofits will each decorate a tree in the park with handmade ornaments that represent each group's unique theme or wish for the season. Nearly 2,800 students will take part in the decorating this year.

I stopped over and caught groups from two South Side MPS schools – Ulysses S. Grant, 2920 W. Grant St., and Academy of Accelerated Learning, 3727 S. 87th St. – decorating their trees.

AAL's theme this year is "Light Up the World With Kindness" and U.S. Grant's is "Christmas Wishes."

Here are some images of AAL decorating their trees:

Here are some photos of U.S. Grant working on theirs:

Roosevelt Middle School and Louisa May Alcott Elementary are among the other schools on hand to decorate trees today. Other school groups will decorate trees through next Wednesday, ahead of next Thursday's Holiday Lights Festival kickoff.

As always the festival brings light installations to three parks Downtown: Cathedral Square, Pere Marquette ("Candy Cane Cove") and Zeidler Union Square ("Santa's Lighted Lodge").

For complete details on the displays, related events and the annual Jingle Bus tour, visit


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