Magnificent Mile Lights Festival

The time is right for making memories

The time is right for making memories

Music is a large part of the holiday scene, of course, and so it was a bit strange to be standing on Michigan Avenue two Saturdays ago amid the mob that grows larger every year to experience the Magnificent Mile Lights Festival and listening to Hlengiwe Mkhwanazi atop a float singing a short portion of "Summertime," which she sings at length (and beautifully) indoors during the Lyric Opera's current production of "Porgy and Bess."

Trying to make sense of that, I found it not hard to travel back and remember how modestly this extravagant parade began, with a couple of horse-drawn carriages, one double-decker bus and a cop car.

The idea for what has now...