Christmas is still more than a month away, but the famous outdoor shopping center The Grove in Los Angeles kicked off the holiday season with their annual “Christmas at The Grove” spectacular on Sunday (Nov. 18). The bash featured musical performances, a California-style snowfall, Santa Claus, the lighting of the 100-foot tall Christmas tree and fireworks.
Now in its 17th year, the annual tree lighting ceremony has come to be a landmark holiday celebration in the City of Angels. The evening’s ceremony was hosted by model and actress Molly Sims with performances from Andy Grammer, Daya, Lindsey Stirling, Rozzi, Parson James, Pia Toscano with David Foster and JD McCrary.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti kicked off the show with opening remarks. Speaking exclusively with Billboard, Garcetti shared, “We usually come together in moments of celebration and triumph but this year, we also remember times of hardship and tragedy. I love coming here because it’s an amazing celebration with people from all over the city but to see our firefighters and police officers here and the sacrifices they’ve made. There’s thousands of people who are not home and have been displaced by fires and tragedy. It’s a good feeling to know that this is a generous and giving city.”
Following Mayor Garcetti’s remarks, child actor JD McCrary, who’s about to star as young Simba in the upcoming Disney live-action remake The Lion King in July 2019, performed “Winter Wonderland.” Renditions of heartwarming holiday classics were a constant throughout the evening from Rozzi Crane & Parson James’ “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas” to the crowd pleasing “O Holy Night,” performed by former American Idol finalist Pia Toscano accompanied by record producer David Foster on piano.
Violinist Lindsey Stirling performed a remixed and modern version of “You’re a Mean One Mr. Grinch” followed by Daya’s chart-topping hit “Don’t Let Me Down.”
“I would say rebirth is the general theme of the new album,” Daya said to Billboardof her record, set to debut in 2019. “My reintroduction into the music world and it just feels fresh and new and the most authentic I’ve ever been. I found myself in a new relationship this year and discovered more parts of myself that I didn’t know before. I’ve had time to really sit back and let everything settle in since ‘Hide Away’ took off which was three years ago. I didn’t allow that time before and now that I’ve had that time, I am rebirth-ing myself into the world.”
Rounding out the evening was multi-platinum artist Andy Grammer, who performed an electrifying set of originals including “Keep Your Head Up” and “Honey, I’m Good.”
Special guests in attendance included Katharine McPhee, Sara Foster, Jennifer Meyer and Caruso Founder & CEO Rick J. Caruso. Caruso shared with Billboard how the annual holiday musical celebration developed over the years: “It just continued to grow to be a part of the community and I’m a big believer of the holidays and celebrating whatever you can celebrate and we always want to be part of a community. And Christmas time and the holiday time is the perfect time to come together. We’re in the business of enriching lives and making people happy. Especially in this season where in southern California, the communities that we’re a part of really got hurt and a lot of tragedies. I think its a message of hope, that all of us stay together and create a great amount of hope, that we all have healthy, happy lives and we support each other.”
Highlights from this year’s tree-lighting ceremony will be featured in “A Home For The Holidays – The 20th Anniversary,” a holiday special featuring stories of adoption from foster care enhanced by major recording artists. The special will air Dec. 21 at 8 p.m. on CBS.
Read about the event HERE on Billboard.com