Nov 13, 2011


It seems that every year once Halloween is over, we skip straight to Christmas. It’s as if the shopping malls and radio stations unite to say gift season has arrived. This phenomenon was in full effect this mid-November weekend when The Grove hosted it’s annual holiday tree lighting ceremony- “A Hollywood Christmas Celebration” featuring musical guests whose voices filled the air with plenty of cheer.

The master of ceremony for the evening was none other than Mario Lopez, a Grove regular as his show Extra films there daily. He was joined alongside Olympian Michelle Kwan, who helped promote the album “A Very Special Christmas” featuring holiday tunes by many of the evening’s performers. The proceeds benefit the Special Olympics and this yearly CD has raised over $100 million dollars in funds since its inception. Michelle reminded the crowd that the 2015 Special Olympics would be held in Los Angeles.

Then we were on to the musical guests. The night featured stars including Colbie Caillat, Gavin DeGraw, Sean Kingston, Lauran Alaina (American Idol), Victoria Justice (Victorious), Robin Thicke, and Il Divo. I personally enjoyed Robin Thicke and loved his address to the crowd, “Look at all you beautiful people in the front row, with all your money,” as he stared into a see of high-profile guests including Maria Shriver. All the performers sang holiday tunes as well as their own hit singles, but Thicke brought in his own personal “RT” stage setup complete with a full band and back up vocalists to promote his sixth studio album release “Love After War” on December 6th.

For me, the biggest surprise was Il Divo, a group whose name literally means ‘divine male performer’ in Italian. Now perhaps the holiday spirit had me thinking of my Italian mother’s savory paghetti sauce on Christmas Eve, but this group from the homeland sure took it home for me. They sang beautifully in their native tongue and reminded me of a classic performance by The Three Tenors.

To top of the holiday cheer was the night’s biggest star, literally, the 105 ft tree (beating out NYC’s 74 footer) whose presence aims to make The Grove Tree Lighting the “Rockefeller Center of the West Coast”. ‘Top Hat’ dancers a la The Rockettes rounded out the decadent show and The Grove was dressed it its sunday best with tinsel, holiday balls, and even falling ‘fake’ snow to cap of the evening.  The festivities will air on November 24th on CBS and on affiliates nationwide throughout the coming month.

The evening was sponsored by Citi and presented by Grove owner Rick Caruso.

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