With just an hour to go before the switch was flipped on the 92nd annual Country Club Plaza lighting ceremony Thursday night, Emma Pefley and Kate Johnson found a prime center spot near the stage.
It was a place with enough room they could vigorously pound their green glowsticks to keep time with “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” and “All I want for Christmas Is You” amid peals of laughter.
The annual Kansas City Thanksgiving tradition was back, a year after a broadcast-only event with people social distancing on the sidewalks and parking lot rooftops, while cars cruised the streets.
This year’s event kicked off at 5 p.m. with performances from Quixotic and the Musical Theater Heritage. Members of the Kansas City Current women’s soccer team flipped the switch, followed by fireworks.
Families, couples and friends wandered the blocked off streets of the Plaza, window-shopping and forming long lines at Starbucks as temperatures dropped. Customers also checked out new the dessert shop, Sugahrush Berries, near the stage.
Pefley recently moved to Las Vegas from her hometown of Lenexa. After witnessing the lighting ceremony once before, she wanted to bring Johnson, of Olathe, a first-timer.
“We wanted to see all the festivities in Kansas City,” Pefley said.
Wayne Wise and Stephanie Bastion of Wichita also were first-time attendees.
“We’re having a really good time. It’s a blast,” Wise said, before heading off in search of a hot drink.
Bill and Janet Vasu moved from Cleveland, Ohio, to Overland Park in January so the couple also were seeing the lighting ceremony for the first time.
“We heard it was really neat,” he said.
If you missed the lights Thursday night, no worry. The lights go on nightly through Sunday, Jan. 9.