Big crowd rings in holiday season at KC Mayor’s Tree Lighting at Crown Center

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- A few thousand people took advantage of mild temperatures on Friday night to watch the traditional Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at Crown Center.

After a festive holiday music program, Mayor Sly James flipped the switch to illuminate the 100-foot tree and the rest of the plaza. Local YouTube star and contributor on the Ellen DeGeneres Show, Kalen Allen, shared the honors with James.

A brief fireworks show, accompanied by music, filled the night sky following the tree lighting. Watch the tree lighting and fireworks in the video player below.

“It was a sight for sore eyes, really,” 11-year-old Stori Clark said. “Seeing everyone come down here to watch the tree lighting -- it was beautiful.”

“It put me in the Christmas spirit,” said Addyson Frazier, also 11. “I had a lot of fun.”

The holiday traditional also benefits the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund.

“It means every year, we provide assistance to low income seniors, people that have disabilities, children, people who are in need,” James said. “Last year, we helped 1,500 families with $50,000 in gift cards and contributions to their needs and $18,000 for kids toys that are distributed at Christmas parties at the community centers by parks and rec.”

Hear more from James in the video player above.

After the holidays, the wood from the Mayor's Christmas Tree is made into commemorative ornaments, which are sold the following year to benefit the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund. This year's Mayor's Christmas Tree Ornament "Skate Away" is available at Crown Center customer service beginning Friday.