The bitter cold temperatures this past week were just another reminder that winter is fast approaching. While the cold weather may not be welcome, celebrations for the holiday season certainly are.
The magic of the season comes to life for thousands at Jackson County Parks + Rec’s 23rd Annual Christmas in the Sky and 32nd Annual Christmas in the Park holiday events.
On Wednesday, November 27th, Christmas in the Sky will kick-off at Longview Lake Beach. This holiday fireworks spectacular, courtesy of Parks + Rec and 99.7 The Point, has provided the opening night festivities for Jackson County’s Christmas in the Park since 1997.
The free event includes a holiday stage show featuring more than 100 singers and dancers from Monica’s School of Dance in Lee’s Summit, plus performances by the St. Thomas Aquinas Chamber Choir, local artist Tevin Williams and special guest Casi Joy, Nashville recording artist and 2017 contestant on The Voice.
Look for Santa to arrive on a mule-drawn sleigh to present the “First Gift of Christmas” ahead of the colorful fireworks show, which will be synchronized to holiday music on 99.7 The Point.
Gates open at Longview Lake Beach, 11101 Raytown Road (2 miles south of 1-470), at 5:00pm. The stage show begins at 6:00pm with fireworks beginning at 7:40pm.
Topping off the evening, more than 500,000 lights and 175 animated displays will illuminate your magical drive through Jackson County’s 32nd Annual Christmas in the Park.
Christmas in the Park will be held Wednesday, November 27th – Sunday, December 31st from 5:30pm – 10:00pm Sunday – Thursday, and 5:30pm – 11:00pm Friday and Saturday.
“Every year we add an exciting new display to the Christmas in the Park experience,” Michele Newman, Jackson County Parks + Rec Director said. “This year, we’ve added an additional 50 feet to the already spectacular 50-foot lighted drive-thru entrance arch that debuted last year. The arch is programmed to sequence a variety of dazzling colors, patterns and effects.”
“Our Parks + Rec staff is second to none,” Jackson County Executive Frank White, Jr. said. “The talent and expertise they have to design, create and install this massive display year after year is impressive. I can’t thank them enough for all the hard work they do to keep this tradition thriving and the holiday season bright for families.”
While there is no charge for this drive-thru event, voluntary exit donations are accepted, with a portion of the proceeds divided among 35 area charities.
The City of Grain Valley will kick off the holiday season with the annual Holiday Festival on December 5th from 6:00pm – 8:00pm. Mayor Mike Todd will flip the switch to light up the Mayor’s Christmas Tree and Armstrong Park. Hot chocolate, cookies, and visits with Santa Claus are the highlights of this free event.
Speaking of Santa, one of the most beloved traditions in Grain Valley, the Santa Bus, will begin its rounds the weekend following Thanksgiving. Santa’s first stop begins November 30th beginning around 9:00am in the Rosewood Hills, Whispering Park, and Woodbury subdivisions. Grain Valley’s Volunteers in Police Service (VIPS) will escort Santa around town and alert children and their parents to Santa’s arrival with their sirens. Children who visit Santa on the bus will receive a small gift and have their photo taken. There is no cost to visit Santa’s bus.
Chuck Johnston, Grain Valley Santa Bus Coordinator, said that donations are down a bit from last year. Monetary donations can be mailed to GV Santa, 611 Cross Creek Drive, Grain Valley MO 64029. To keep up with Santa’s schedule and to download pictures from your visit on the bus, visit www.gvsanta.com.
A number of local events, including Jackson County’s annual Christmas in the Park celebration, will welcome the holiday season in the coming weeks.
Photo credit: Jackson County Parks + Rec