KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The centerpiece of the exceptional Crown Center holiday experience is now lit with about 7,200 white lights and more than 1,200 ornaments.
Friday evening, at about 5:30 p.m., the annual lighting of the Mayor's Christmas Tree event began.
The Mayor's Christmas Tree is one of the nation's tallest Christmas trees, standing 100-feet tall. The douglas fir is taller than both the White House Christmas Tree and the tree at Rockefeller Center in New York.
The tree is a symbol of the Mayor's Christmas Tree Fund, which assists in providing for the city's less fortunate. Donations to the Mayor's Christmas Tree fund are used to provide gift cards to qualified applicants, as well as holiday parties and gifts for needy children. (See list below of exactly what the funds bought. Click here if you'd like to donate.)
Seth Sinovic, Sporting KC, was the featured celebrity at this year's ceremony. Sinovic is a native of the Kansas City area. He attended Rockhurst High School and played soccer at Creighton University from 2006 to 2009.
Additionally, the Marine Color Guard and the Heartland Men's Chorus participated in the ceremony, which ended with fireworks as the grand finale.
When the holiday season is over, the wood from the Mayor's Christmas Tree is made into commemorative ornaments, which are sold the following year to benefit the fund. The 2014 ornament goes on sale Friday at the Crown Center Customer Service. Cost is $13.95.
According to Mayor Sly James, last year, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund donated:
$33,500 to the Mid-America Assistance Coalition:
202 individuals received assistance with their electric, gas, and water utility bills ($15, 629)
67 individuals received rent assistance ($10,991)
2,093 individual meals ($4,185)
4 individuals with specific and unique needs ($350)
Toys for 3,366 children ($18,286.80)
Walmart Gift Cards for 1,200 families ($30,000)
Charities helping an estimated 500 individuals ($2,000)
TOTAL: Assistance to 7,432 children and families during last year’s holiday season.