Lilia Bohntinsky (right), Niamh Harris and Shobini Palaniappan perform on stage with the Sarah Smith Elementary School Choir during the annual Macy's Great Tree Lighting celebration at Lenox Square Mall in Atlanta on Thursday, Nov. 27, 2014. Thousands of people came out to watch the show which featured performances by The Isley Brothers, Pentatonix, tenor Timothy Miller and many more. JONATHAN PHILLIPS / SPECIAL
Photo: Jonathan Phillips
Photo: Jonathan Phillips

Macy's move of Great Tree Lighting may change the way you prepare for Thanksgiving

Those who make watching the lighting of the “Great Tree” at Lenox Square an annual Thanksgiving Day tradition will have to change their plans this year.

Retail giant Macy’s, which puts on the annual ceremony — one of metro Atlanta’s most anticipated — has moved the event up four days to 7 p.m. the Sunday before Thanksgiving .

The company said the switch is an attempt to accommodate more fans of the holiday ritual, which dates back 68 years.

“By moving the tree lighting to Sunday, we believe more Atlantans will be able to join us to experience the tradition in person, and enjoy the show,” Macy’s spokeswoman Melissa Goff said in an email.

Macy’s switch to a new day is part of a plethora of changes surrounding the holiday in the last few years. First retailers began opening stores earlier and earlier on Black Friday until they took the plunge three years ago to open on Thanksgiving itself.

Then last year Macy’s switched to an artificial tree for the first time, erecting a 56-foot-tall tree made by Alpharetta-based Christmas Lights, Etc. This year’s tree also will be artificial, standing at 56 feet and illuminated by 45,000 white and multi-color LED lights.

Debby Cannon, director of Georgia State University’s hospitality program, said it may be tougher for fans to attend the tree lighting than Macy’s officials think. The Sunday before Thanksgiving is often reserved for grocery shopping for the big day or cleaning the house for family and friends. Attending the ceremony on Thanksgiving also is easier because the next day is a holiday for many workers.

But, she said, people can change and create new traditions. “We’re an adaptable group,” she said.

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