KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Amid a jubilant, ecstatic crowd on a warm Friday night, Kansas City Mayor Sly James flipped the switch to a beautiful, 100-foot Christmas tree adorned with countless bright lights.
It was a first for Michelle Garcia and her two Santa-hat-sporting nephews.
“We’re just so excited, Garcia said. "Well, it’s fun because I don’t get a chance to spend a lot of time with them, so I can bring them out and maybe start a tradition."
“I grew up in Kansas City and moved to Oregon, and then I came back," said Cathey Peterson, who wore a reindeer hat and a necklace made out of miniature Christmas lights to the long-awaited extravaganza. "So seeing the lights is one of my most favorite things.”
Each year thousands of metro area families pack Crown Center Square for the festive holiday event where you’ll hear lots of traditional Christmas singing and you’ll see dozens of doting dads dancing with their daughters.
“We’re having a blast! This is so fun," said John Torgeson as he danced with his two-year-old daughter Charlie on his shoulders. "I love making this memory with my little girl."
Moms rocking their babies in their arms are also sprinkled about in this crowd. Jawanna Griffin’s three-month-old baby Marlo was perhaps the youngest tree-watcher in the crowd.
“Well, we all like the holidays. I just like celebrating them with my kids,” Griffin said.
Of course, there were a lot of excited kids kicking up their heels, chomping on good food and just enjoying the Christmas tradition with their parents.
Finally, after much anticipation, the crowd counted down to the mayor’s flip of the switch, officially kicking off the Christmas season in Kansas City.
Gabrielle and Tyler DeMay celebrated their toddler Genevieve’s first birthday with a visit to the Mayor’s Christmas Tree lighting ceremony and said they can hardly wait until next year.
“We’ve never done this before," Gabrielle DeMay said. "This is our first time, so we’re kind of starting a tradition."