By Kate Kovarik
The Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade might be the initial image that comes to mind when many people think about Thanksgiving traditions, but more often than not, the fondest memories of this holiday originate from the individual traditions made right at home.
For the Barnickel family of Leawood, Kan., taking part in the city’s holiday events has always been a special part of their Thanksgiving holiday.
Every year, after celebrating Thanksgiving day with family, the Barnickels look forward to the following evening to continue their family tradition of going to Crown Center for the annual lighting of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree.
“We’ve been going as long as I can remember,” Elizabeth Barnickel, 19, said. “For me…it signifies the beginning of the holiday season and family coming together.”
According to Crown Center, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree lighting is not only an exciting way to kick off the holiday season but it also is an event dedicated to supporting the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund which helps aids Kansas City residents in need.
Barnickel said her grandmother was the one who first started the family tradition of going to Crown Center to see the tree lighting.
“It’s her favorite thing,” Barnickel said. “She used to take our whole family growing up…I would always look forward to the tree lighting because it was a big family thing.”
Even though some of her extended family now resides across the country, Barnickel said she still enjoys carrying on the tradition with her parents and younger brother.
Barnickel said she has seen the event grow and evolve throughout the years, drawing in larger crowds with every new holiday season. She believes that special holiday traditions such as the Christmas tree lighting are what make Kansas City truly one-of-a-kind.
The annual lighting of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree will take place Friday November 25, 2016, at 5:30 p.m. in Crown Center Square.