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Thousands kick off holiday season at Christmas in the Sky to open Christmas in the Park

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LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. -- An annual holiday tradition lit up the night sky Wednesday night, as thousands attended the 29th annual Christmas in the Sky.

“It really is Jackson County’s gift to the community,” said Michele Newman, director of Jackson County Parks+Rec.

The 15-minute sky show wowed and dazzled crowds once again.

The event is an annual tradition for many families, some who have been coming since they were kids are now passing the torch to their own children.

“It’s about Christmas. It’s about God. It’s a big family thing where everyone can have fun,” said Angela Fonville, who brought her two kids and her husband for the first time.

The event featured plenty of vendors, performances and even a visit from Santa Claus, who arrived from the North Pole to Longview Lake on a horse-drawn sleigh.

Saint Nick also delivered the first gift of the season to Anna Pritchard, a young girl who survived a battle with kidney cancer. She received a copy of the Polar Express, along with a bell.

The event is a kickoff to Christmas in the Park. For the 32nd year, visitors will get a chance to drive through a Winter Wonderland at the lake. It will feature half a million lights, 175,000 animated displays and more.

Donations are welcome to benefit a number of charities, including the FOX4 Love Fund.

In its 32 years, $1.5 million has been raised from donations made to Christmas in the Park.

“Thirty charities across the metro have benefited from the generosity,” Newman said.

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