CHICAGO -- On Thursday night, Cubs Hall of Famer Fergie Jenkins helped flip the switch to light the holiday tree at the corner of Clark and Addison streets near Wrigley Field. Next year, the Cubs hope the ceremony will be at the new plaza now under construction.
Workers taking part in the renovation project at Wrigley Field didn't stop while Cubs chairman Tom Ricketts delivered his welcoming statement to the holiday celebration. The tree lighting capped the Cubs' yearlong "Let's Give" campaign, and Ricketts noted that Cubs Charities have received $3.4 million in donations this year.
The tree lighting was in conjunction with a toy drive to benefit Children's Home and Aid Society. Nancy Ronquillo, the society's president and CEO, said the Cubs sponsored hundreds of families who would not have had any gifts to put under the tree without the team's help.
While the focus was on the Cubs' charitable efforts, Wrigley Field's transformation in the four-year renovation project was evident. This is Year 2, and among the projects is the completion of a plaza west of the ballpark along Clark Street where events such as the tree lighting will take place in the future.
The famous red marquee at Clark and Addison is gone for now, as crews create a home plate club for season ticket and suite holders. Wrigley's exterior walls on the west side also are gone, as part of the second phase of the renovation, which includes upgrading the third-base concourse and the installation of new concessions and bathrooms. Phase two also includes replacing the seats and the concrete from the left-field foul pole to the main gate.
The Cubs players will get their holiday gift on Opening Day 2016, when they see the new 30,000-square foot home clubhouse, currently being completed.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. She writes a blog, Muskat Ramblings. You can follow her on Twitter @CarrieMuskat and listen to her podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.