The Plaza Lights Ceremony: a tradition to continue

Mallory Mongs photo of a light display at the Country Club Plaza Lighting Ceremony

Mallory Mong’s photo of a light display at the Country Club Plaza Lighting Ceremony

There are things about the lives of every person that make them unique. For example: traditions. They run through families, passed down from generation to generation and adapted as traditions from other families and cultures merge through marriages and adoptions. It seems that Christmastime is the most tradition-packed holiday. Wearing matching pajamas on Christmas, opening a single present on Christmas Eve, always going to the midnight church service, etc. One tradition for many families here in KC falls the night of Thanksgiving: the plaza lighting ceremony.

To kickstart the Christmas season, the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City,  Missouri has a big lighting ceremony each year. There are music performers, and families full of turkey and stuffing fill the streets. More than one KCC student and their families take part in this fun tradition.

“Kansas City doesn’t have very many traditions that happen every year, so it’s a really good way to kick off the holiday season while family is still in town for Thanksgiving,” junior Rachel Rigler said.

Friends and family all take part in this lovely Kansas City tradition together, sharing the memories with one another.

“I went with [senior] Ethan [Buresh] and his cousin,” senior Aubrey Johnston, who goes every year, said. “We parked outside of Kaldi’s Coffee and then we watched the lights turn on. They messed up and didn’t turn on at first!”

Junior Harrison Spencer also waited in anticipation.

“I always had faith [the lights] would [come on]!” Spencer said.

The air fills with applause as the lights come on.

It’s been a holiday tradition for Spencer’s large family to pile into their red van to go see the ceremony. They trek to the top of a parking garage where they have a good view of all the lights coming on all at once without much of a crowd.

“Everyone is either taking pictures or taking in the scene. It’s pretty happy and exciting,” Spencer said.

This year, the Spencers brought friends and family from Indiana and Idaho with them, sharing their tradition with people around the country.

“It’s a really great way to kick off Christmas,” Spencer said.

Johnston had similar thoughts.

“It’s just a nice night to celebrate Thanksgiving and the upcoming season,” she said.

There were fireworks and giveaways all as a part of the pre-show festivities and post-ceremony celebration after the lights are lit at 6:54 p.m. on the dot.

“I realized the lights turn on at 6:54 every year because 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1,” Rigler said.

Casi Joy, Isaac Cates and Ordained, Blue Valley High School Chamber Singers, KC A Cappella, the KCP&L Plaza Lights singers and dancers, and The Elders all performed.

If you’d like to see the lights yourself for a quick dose of Christmas, they shine every day from 5 p.m. until 3 a.m. from now until January 14th, filling the city with holiday cheer.