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Christmas displays sparkle throughtout Kansas City area

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Kansas City may be marked by a history of spectators visiting the Plaza during the holiday season, but several other sparkling areas are also worth a visit.

A tradition since 1973, the Kansas City Mayor’s Christmas Tree in Crown Center Square is the oldest light display on the list. Towering 100 feet, the tree stands taller than the White House Christmas Tree or Rockefeller Center’s in New York City. It features 7,200 white lights and 1,200 ornaments, and is symbolic of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, which aids the city’s less fortunate citizens. The lights will shine until Dec. 31.

The Vince & Associates Clinical Research pharmaceutical company light show has been in existence since 2006 and may be considered one of the best in the city. Tune in to 96.9 FM for the perfectly coordinated harmonization of the bulbs.

“Our boss loves Christmas,” said Victoria Hamilton, an employee of Dr. Bradley Vince. “He adds to it every year.”

Located at 101st Street and Metcalf Avenue and put on by Holiday Display Services, the best view of this entertaining orchestration is from the Emmanuel Baptist Church parking lot, right across the street.

“It’s our way of kind of thanking the community for their support of our organization,” Vince said. “We see a lot of smiles from people of all ages who come to see it.”

Next, Christmas in the Park, located by Longview Lake in Lee’s Summit is celebrating its 25th year of festive drive-through exhibits. About 200,000 visitors see this Jackson County Parks and Recreation’s presentation each holiday season. It is animated with 175 figures and more than 300,000 lights, and this year, it included some new additions to honor the anniversary, including a 30-foot by 20-foot birthday cake decorated with more than 5,000 lights. Christmas in the Park accepts donations and represents the spirit of giving by offering a portion of the proceeds to 39 local charities. The display will run until Dec. 31.

The Ultimate Tree is a residential display located at 131st and Walmer streets in the Village at Deer Creek in Overland Park. Since 1987, Mark Callegari and his family have conducted a musically-synchronized production that takes place in their own front yard, using a tree-shaped flat panel with thousands of LED bulbs.

As the owner of computerized lighting company LightWild, Callegari projects his show over the airwaves of 98.5 FM. Guests can sit in the comfort of their warm cars as they watch the themes of The Ultimate Tree match the rhythms of their favorite Christmas songs. Callegari has been occasionally known to include his own message to audience members in between songs. For instance, he once thanked all his neighbors for making his show possible.

Many people visit neighborhoods known for extravagant lighting displays during the holiday season, and in Kansas City, the Brookside, Waldo and Ward Parkway areas may be the first that come to mind. There is one place, however, that exceeds all others. It looks like Clark Griswold and Buddy the Elf collaborated on an exterior design project.

“Christmas Place,” the subdivision (regularly “Terrace Place”), is completely unified and committed to the art of Christmas illumination. Although the designs may be fitting for the North Pole, it is actually located at 131st Place and Antioch Road in Overland Park.

Incorporating every decoration from mechanical reindeer to the smallest details, such as candy canes twinkling around the bottoms of trees, Christmas Place is bustling.

“I think we’ve been doing this since about 1992,” one resident said.

They didn’t simply agree to decorate their homes. First of all, everyone participates. Not a single piece of property is without lights. Secondly, they’re organized. Although every house doesn’t match, each one complements the overall scene and completes the perfect view of Christmas.

jturner@unews.com

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