Crown Center Holiday Celebration Ringing

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This year's lighting of the Mayor's Christmas Tree at Crown Center will be held virtually in recognition of the unique health restrictions this holiday season due to Covid-19. (Photo by Crown Center)

Crown Center’s holiday season starts in earnest today with the lighting of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree and Santa’s arrival, although his sojourn at the Shops will be a uniquely  2020 experience.

This year, it’s Claus vs. Covid and to protect both the jolly fat man and his young fans, Santa will be wearing a mask, and children will talk to him from six feet away. Families can take photos with Santa from one side of a plexiglass divider.

“It will be a memorable photo that uniquely captures the ‘2020 experience,’ according to the Crown Center release announcing the holiday schedule which can be found here.

“We know Crown Center is a key part of so many Kansas City families’ holiday traditions,” Stacey Paine, president of Crown Center Redevelopment Corporation, said in a statement.

“We are doing everything we can to keep those Christmas traditions alive during this unusual and difficult year.”

Santa will arrive in front of the Crown Center Shops in a horse-drawn carriage at 10:30 a.m. today and will greet those gathered outside from his carriage.

Santa will then begin his four-week stay at his Ginger Bread Station at the Crown Center Shops, Showplace, Level 1, beginning at 11 a.m. Reservations are required to visit Santa and should be made in advance.

An 18-foot holiday wreath decorates Crown Center Shops. (Photo by Crown Center)

Ginger Bread Station hours are from today through Dec. 23, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., and from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Dec. 24. A professional photographer will be available or guests can take their own pics.

The Mayor’s Christmas Tree is a 100-foot tall Douglas fir that came from the Willamette Valley of Oregon.

In keeping with Covid restrictions, the annual lighting ceremony will be virtual this year. Viewers can watch the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Crown Center’s Facebook page and CrownCenter.com starting at 5:30 p.m.

During the ceremony, Mayor Quinton Lucas and friends will turn on more than 48,000 LED white lights, according to the Crown Center release. Holiday music and entertainment will include performances by Quixotic, harpist Calvin Arsenia, and Crown Brass.

Throughout the holiday season and until March 7, the Crown Center Ice Terrace also will be open, although it also has some new twists due to the pandemic.

Reservations are required for ice skating and may be made two days in advance. Same day reservations are not available. Masks and social distancing are required in the pro shop, on the ice, and for spectators inside the fenced rink area.

Other holiday activities at the Crown Center Shops include performances at The Coterie theater,.

Santa Claus will arrive by carriage to begin his four-week sojourn at the Crown Center Shops. (Photo by Crown Center)

The Snowy Day and other stories by Ezra Jack Keats will run through Jan, 3 as both a limited in-person and virtual production. The show by Mesner Puppets “celebrates the magic and boundless possibilities of the first snowfall,” according to Crown Center.

“Using inventive puppetry, Keats’ little boy in the red coat comes to life in this charming story collection of Whistle for Willie, Goggles!, A Letter to Amy, and The Snowy Day.”

The SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium will feature a SEA of Lights experience through Jan. 10. The holiday light experience is included with daily admission to SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium.

“Visitors will be dazzled as they walk throughout thousands of twinkling holiday lights across SEA LIFE’s undersea wonderland,” according to Crown Center.

And for grownups who want to get their holiday shopping done, the Crown Center Shops will be open. Holiday hours through Dec. 23 will be Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., and Sunday, noon to 5 p.m. On Dec. 24 and Dec. 31, hours are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Many of the merchants will be offering deals for “Small Business Saturday” on Saturday.

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