Christmas in Kansas CitySHOWS/FESTIVALS/HOLIDAYS, STAFF, USA MAINLAND, VIDEOS — By Betsy Villanella on December 10, 2011 at 01:10
Story by staff writer Betsy Villanella. Photos and video Copyright © Betsy Villanella.
My husband had to go to Kansas City for his job, and I decided to join him. I have never been in KC during the holiday season and thought it would be fun to see the Christmas decorations and all their celebrations.
I am not a city lover, but with all the lovely lights and everything festooned in evergreen and garlands, it’s a beautiful sight to behold. A 15-block section called the Country Club Plaza outlines all the buildings in Christmas lights for the season.
There are horse-drawn carriages, some of which are also lit up, and you can ride them for a tour of the Plaza. Just hearing the clip-clop of the horses’ hoofs as they stroll down the streets gives you a sense of holiday spirit.
The Country Club Plaza, established in 1922 and designed architecturally after Seville, Spain, has over 150 shops and many nice restaurants. The buildings have a feel of the Old World in some places, with lots of tiled roofing and frescoes.
KC is known as the “City Of Fountains” and I can see why. They are everywhere. There are more then 200 fountains in the city. It is commonly stated here that only Rome has more fountains. Too bad most are not running at this time of year, but the statues that the waters flow from and around are works of art.
We stayed at the Sheraton Hotel in the Crown Center. The Crown Center is named after the Hallmark Cards headquarters located here. It is attached to the Crown Center shopping mall by what they call The Link: a glassed-in, tunnel-type walkway above the streets that winds around the area from the Sheraton to the Westin Hotel, through the shops, and then makes its way to historic and beautiful Union Station.
The Link is climate controlled so no need for a coat. I have to admit I feel a bit like a hamster in it—it reminds me of a habit trail, and I keep finding myself on the lookout for a wheel to hop on.
Union Station in Kansas City is the second largest train station still standing in the U.S. Only Grand Central Station in New York City is larger. Built in 1878, it stands near the merging of the Kansas and Missouri Rivers. After the 1903 flood it was relocated to higher ground. During the grand opening of the current station in 1914, President Woodrow Wilson declared it the “Gateway to the West.”
A large Christmas village of gingerbread houses with three trains running through was on display. All created by the chefs at the Westin Crown Center Hotel.
As I wandered the shops in Crown Center I was entertained by Christmas choirs of all ages. It was a pleasure to see them having such a good time singing for their families and passersby.
Across from the shops at Crown Center is an outdoor plaza and the Crown Center Square Fountain. From Crowncenter.com > Fountains:
• 49 water jets and 48 water shooters spout up to 60 feet in the air, before coming back to a 37,500-gallon underground reservoir. Water is recycled into the fountain at a rate of 2,200 gallons per minute.
• Check out our dancing water shows, synchronized to music recorded for Crown Center by members of the Kansas City Symphony.
The water show runs every hour on the hour, and it’s very entertaining to watch.
The Crown Center Ice Terrace, a skating rink for the public to enjoy from November to March, is located here too. This is also where you can be awed by the 100-foot-tall Mayor’s Christmas Tree, one of the tallest in the nation. After the holidays the wood from the tree is turned into ornaments and sold the following year to help the city’s poor. This year’s ornament was “Holiday Mittens,” which I found was already sold out.
The war museum is a bit on the sobering side but very informative and really gives you a sense of the sacrifices of war.The art museum features paintings from well-known artists, such as Van Gogh, Monet, O’Keeffe, Remington and Rodin, just to name a few. It also displays ancient Roman and Egyptian artifacts dating as far back as the 3rd millennium BC.
“From ancient times to modern day, this encyclopedic museum is one of the best in the country, offering visitors the opportunity to explore civilization through the eyes of painters, sculptors, craftsmen, and many other artists.
“The Nelson-Atkins is FREE to all visitors, everyday . . . come discover the best of Kansas City.”
If you’re looking for a great place for shopping and touring in the Midwest, Kansas City is well worth your time—not only for the Christmas season but for any season.
I really enjoyed my time in this city. But I will admit that, after ten days away from my loved ones, I felt as a famous character from this area once said: “There’s no place like home.” I will be very happy to get back to spend Christmastime in mine.
I wish you a wonderful Christmas with your loved ones, and please enjoy a prosperous and peaceful New Year!!
Our Disney specialist Elizabeth Villanella has lived in the Montrose, Pennsylvania area most of her life. Betsy married her high school boyfriend in 1973. As an Air Force wife, she has lived in Texas, Italy, and Virginia. Between the two of them, her sons have given her fourteen grandchildren and counting. Betsy and her husband currently live with Albert K. Ninestein, a mini Schnauzer who’s as smart as his namesake. She loves to travel and wants to experience (and share) as many places in this world as she can! Betsy tweets as @betsy_v.