Independence, Where History Meets the Holidays
Eggnog and freshly baked gingerbread, caroling to your neighbors on a chilly evening, opening a present on Christmas Eve and decorating your tree with ornaments made by your children. Everyone has a favorite childhood memory about the holiday season. Choose Independence as a place where you can re-live special times and create new traditions.
|Find great shopping all around the Independence Square.|
Santa can be sighted at both the Independence Center mall and at nearby Bass Pro Outdoor Shops. After sitting on Santa’s lap, turn your kids loose in Bass Pro’s Santa’ s Wonderland, where a variety of free family-friendly activities are offered. (November 10 till December 24.) As a bonus, at Bass Pro, your child will receive a free photo taken with Santa Claus. On December 1, you can return to Independence Center to eat Breakfast with Santa. For a glimpse of a historic Santa, come to the “Civil War Santa” program at the Midwest Genealogy Center on December 8.
Holiday Shopping is a great family tradition. Begin on Friday, November 16 and Saturday, November 17 at the “Best Little Arts and Crafts” Show in the Sermon Center, where you’ll snap up jewelry, woodwork, folk art, candles, fleece and knit items and more. Stroll over to the Square on Saturday for the annual Holiday Open House, held November 10 and 17 to show off the quaint shops all dressed in their festive best. Should you opt to purchase locally made art for a much appreciated gift, mark your calendar for the November 16 and December 21 Englewood Art Walks.
Looking for some outdoor entertainment? November 17 is the date for the Independence Square Christmas Lighting festivities. Beginning at noon, you can catch a ride on a mule-drawn sleigh. ($2.00). Children’s activities and visits with Santa will enchant your youngsters from 3:00 to 5:00. The U. S. Capitol Christmas tree arrives at 4:00 and live entertainment and a program begin at 5:00 and continue till the light switch is thrown for the Jackson County Historic Truman Courthouse and Square Christmas Tree at 6:00. Details at www.theindependencesquare.com. The Mormon Visitors Center also hosts a Joyous Celebration of Light ceremony, Saturday, November 24 at 6:00 p.m. This free event offers music by The Mormon Chorale, inspirational messages and a light display.
For those intrigued by the idea of a pioneer era Christmas, The National Frontier Trails Museum has planned a “Holiday Kick-off” on December 1, with wagon rides and refreshment, included with paid admission. Return every Thursday in December at 2:00 p.m. for a “Christmas in the West” gallery walk.
Historic Home Tours
|The Bingham-Waggoner Estate takes you to holidays past with the Spirit of Christmas Past Heritage Homes Tour.|
Touring historic homes decorated for the holidays is a much-loved Independence tradition. If you’d like to join in, plan on exploring the Marshal’s Home at the 1859 Jail, Bingham-Waggoner Estate and Vaile Mansion during the annual Spirit of Christmas Past Heritage Homes Tour. Beginning on the Friday after Thanksgiving and continuing through December 30 (with homes closed December 23-25), you can tour any one home for $6 or opt for a combo discount ticket, which allows visits to all three any time during the season for only $15. The homes sparkle and shine more brightly during the Twilight Tours, held Sunday, December 2. The station master’s home and working rooms of a historic two story railroad station in the 1879 Chicago and Alton Depot are open for “St. Nicholas Christmas” tours on November 23-25, December 1-2, 8-9 and 15-16. Admission is free and donations are accepted. If you’d rather gather decorating ideas from contemporary private homes, circle Thursday, December 6 in red on your calendar. The annual Independence Young Matron’s has organized this Holly and Mistletoe Tour for more than 50 years.
Fun for the Whole Family
Children always adore the Mayor’s Christmas Carnival on Saturday, December 1, while parents love the idea of free admission. Bring the gang to the Sermon Center for games, inflatables, visits with Santa, face painting, door prizes and giveaways. Or treat the youngsters to a live puppet show on December 15 and 22. The Puppetry Arts Institute is presenting “The Gingerbread Man’s Christmas” on both days in a morning and afternoon show. Let your family experience the excitement of ice skating at the Centerpoint Community Ice inside the Independence Events Center. Options include three holiday skating camps, slated for December 21-23, 26- 28 and 29-31, family skating with Santa, December 21-24 and a holiday skating show, featuring local amateurs of all age and experience levels on December 20.
Christmas themed concerts featuring inspirational, classic and even rap music are also planned. “The Story: A Christmas Celebration,” set for December 1, is billed as a musical journey from Genesis to Revelation. Spotlighting famous Christian authors, speakers and musicians, this concert at the Independence Events Center is in town for one night only. Tech N9ne, local rapper who’s made good nationally, presents his “The Gift of Rap” concert, also at the Independence Events Center, on December 7. A true Independence tradition, “Handel’s Messiah” performs on December 8 and 9 in the Community of Christ Stone Church. The 100 voice choir, magnificent organ, string and brass orchestra and soloists offer their talents as a gift to the community in this free event. The Community of Christ Temple marks the season of Advent in spoken word and music at the December 9 Advent Worship concert, with choral music by the Spire Ensemble.
For a presidential twist on the holidays, make a stop at the Harry S. Truman National Historic Site visitor Center. The “Christmas with the Trumans” exhibit, on display from November 15 through January 6, shares holiday decorations and personal belongings used by the Truman family at their Independence home. You can learn about the Truman and Wallace families at the “Tracing the Trumans” exhibit at the Truman Library through December 31. If you visit on November 23, 24 or December 26, you can also meet and chat with “Harry” when a Truman re-enactor makes an appearance.
When all the presents have been opened and toys have lost their charm, families looking for something to do after Christmas might want to consider the “Wagons Ho” program at the National Frontier Trails Museum on December 28. Guests will see a movie, “pack” a child size wagon for the trip west and take a covered wagon ride with live narration.
For a complete listing of holiday events, accommodations and discounts, call Independence Tourism at 800-748-7323, 816-325-7111 or go to www.visitindependence.com to view our interactive brochure.