My favorite part of Christmas in Kansas City is not necessarily the Plaza Lights, nor the trains at Union Station. Not even the Mayor’s Christmas Tree at Crown Center.
Instead, it’s what happens to the Mayor’s Christmas Tree when the holidays are over.
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The Mayor’s Christmas Tree, Kansas City
Located at Crown Center, the world headquarters of Hallmark Cards, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree in Kansas City is often one of the tallest live trees in the United States — usually more than 100 feet tall. It’s arrival in town each November is a momentous news event. It’s lighting on the Friday after Thanksgiving is a joyful occasion.
When Christmas is over, a company in Pomona Kansas strips the limbs and bark, then cuts the tree into wooden planks. Those planks go to the talented artists at Hallmark. It becomes their job each year to create a new, original design for natural wood ornaments. A 100-foot tall tree makes about 3,000 individually decorated ornaments. Working around knots in the wood and other natural elements contributes to the creative process and individual attention to detail.
Unique Wooden Christmas Tree Ornaments
The idea of a special Mayor’s Christmas Tree ornament began in 1981. At that time, the ornaments were chosen from the delightful, but mass produced line of Hallmark holiday decorations. They were simply distinguished with a stamped inscription that read “Mayor’s Christmas Tree.”
However, in 1987, the idea of making the ornaments from the previous year’s tree came into being. That first wooden ornament was a Christmas tree and all 3,000 ornaments sold out in about a month.
The ornaments sell for $12.50 and can only be purchased at the Customer Service Center on the second floor of Crown Center. The new ornament goes on sale the day after Thanksgiving. Of course, the unique design and collectible nature of the ornaments adds to their appeal. But it’s what happens to the money that really touches the Christmas spirit.
Proceeds of the ornament sales benefit the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, a charity that, since 1908, has helped feed, clothe and provide housing to those Kansas Citians in need throughout the year.
And that’s the true spirit of Christmas represented in the little wooden ornaments made from a truly beautiful tree.
Tip: While you are at Crown Center, you might as well enjoy some of the other activities for a family-friendly getaway to Kansas City.
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