You just finished your Thanksgiving feast, and you want to do something fun with your family, but Black Friday isn’t exactly your thing – for some of us Black Friday is what nightmares are made of. So, what do you do? Do you sit at home and try to get everyone to agree on a movie? Do you break out the Christmas decorations and start putting them up after a long day of cooking and socializing? If these options don’t sound appealing, we suggest heading down to the KCP&L Plaza Lighting Ceremony with your family for some post-Thanksgiving holiday fun!
What Is The Plaza Lighting Ceremony?
The tradition first started in 1925 with a single strand of colored bulbs draped over the entrance of what is now the Millcreek Building on 47th Street. The first official Plaza Lighting ceremony took place a few years later in 1930. We couldn’t find a picture from the first lighting ceremony, but the picture above (source: kchistory.org) gives you an idea of what the lights looked like a few years later.
Today the tradition (picture source: farecompare.com) has grown into a huge gathering. The Country Club Plaza puts up five blocks of holiday lights, and the “switch is flipped” to turn those lights on at around 7:00 pm on Thanksgiving night (full event timeline can be found at the bottom of this post).
You may be thinking, “What’s the big deal? They are just turning on lights.” Well if you have never been to the lighting ceremony, we highly suggest you check it out. It is more than turning on pretty lights; it is a community event that brings everyone in the metro area together. The fun is in the festive spirit that surrounds this magical time.
What Makes This Event Special
The event has live music, holiday snacks, giveaways and much more leading up to the countdown. The lighting countdown is something special in and of itself. Watching your kids countdown and anticipate the beautiful lights with other Kansas Citians is something that you will never forget, and once the lights come on, you will see their faces light up brighter than the bulbs. After the lights are on, there is a celebration with plenty of cheering and fireworks.
To get the most out of your Plaza Lighting Ceremony experience, take a look at these tips.
Avoid the Parking Panic
Show up early if you can. Parking is probably the biggest issue we hear about when anyone goes to see the lights so get there around 5:00 pm or earlier. You don’t want to miss the lights because you were driving around trying to find a parking spot. If you and your significant other are going sans kids, take an Uber or Lyft and have them drop you off on the outskirts of the main plaza area.
Stay Safe and Have Fun
Keep your kids close at all times. This event is packed every year, so it is crucial that you have an eye on or hold hands with your kids at all times.
We also suggest getting all children who are able to walk some sort of ID bracelet or necklace with their first name, your name, cell phone number, and a backup cell phone number (this can be your SO’s or a close relative’s). Do not put your address or last name on the ID. Make sure you tell your kids to go straight to a police officer (there are plenty at the event working security) if you are separated and show the officer their ID.
As fun as the plaza lighting ceremony is, it is always important to have safety at the forefront of your mind.
Bundle Up and Stay Warm
The truth of the matter is the end of November is always frigid in Kansas City so make sure everyone is bundled up in warm coats, hats, scarves, and gloves. Take it a step further and grab some hand warmers while you are out and about and bring something warm to drink in an insulated thermos.
The Plaza Lighting Ceremony will be held Thanksgiving night, November 22, 2018. Everything will take place at Nichols Road and Pennsylvania by Brio Tuscan Grille.
5-6pm: Pre-show performances and giveaways from the Main Stage
6-7pm: 89th Annual Plaza Lighting Ceremony
6:54pm: Flip of the switch, followed by fireworks
7-8pm: Post-ceremony concert by The Elders
Come take part in this long-standing Kansas City tradition after you are done with your Thanksgiving festivities. And remember to stay warm, stay safe, and take plenty of pictures! If you cannot make it out to the Plaza but still want to watch the lighting ceremony, there will be a live broadcast on 41 Action News.
Have you taken your kids to the lighting ceremony before? What are some of your tips? Let us know in the comments below!
For a full list of kid-friendly November activities, click here.