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Springfield heralds the holidays with two tree-lighting ceremonies Nov. 22

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Santa and Mrs. Claus will be joined by young well-wishers at Jordan Valley Park.

Mayor Bob Stephens will join Santa and Mrs. Claus as well as young well-wishers at Jordan Valley Park for the tree lighting ceremony, followed by fireworks.

 

Springfield’s annual Festival of Lights will kick off officially at 5:30 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 22, at Jordan Valley Park with the Mayor’s Treelighting Ceremony, followed by a display of fireworks at at Hammons Field celebrating a “Cardinals Christmas.”

Mayor Bob Stephens, with help from first- and second-grade students, will signal the start of the holiday season by lighting a 33-foot Norway spruce, located in the park, east of the Mediacom Ice Park. The musical tree and surrounding park will be lit up with thousands of lights.

Hundreds of school-aged children are expected to attend the tree-lighting ceremony, which will include live music, a visit from Santa and Mrs. Claus, and a parade with Santa through Jordan Valley Park to Hammons Field, where the Springfield Cardinals will host a Cardinals Christmas. Children will be able to visit with Santa and enjoy hot chocolate and candy canes. The Cardinals event will end with a big bang: a fireworks show set to holiday music.

At 7 p.m. on the same night, Santa and Mrs. Claus will unveil Christmas lighting on Park Central Square as the History Museum lights up the night with music.

At 7 p.m. on the same night, Santa and Mrs. Claus will unveil Christmas lighting on Park Central Square as the History Museum lights up the night with music by ollowed by  a special performance by Tuba Christmas on the gazebo as Park Central Square lights up at 7:30 p.m.

Santa’s mailbox (a decked-out mailbox provided by the U.S. Postal Service) will be on-site Saturday night only, for children to send their letters to Santa. Free parking is available at Mediacom Ice Park and Hammons Field. Convenient parking is also available for a fee at the Jordan Valley Car Park on Trafficway. The ice park, located at 635 E. Trafficway, will again offer free ice skating, 6-8 p.m. that evening. Skate rental is $2.50.

If you’d like to take that special someone to dinner and watch the tree-lighting activities and fireworks from above, the “Illumination Celebration” at The Tower Club returns this year. The exclusive club is open to the public for a special holiday buffet. Doors open at 5 p.m. Call 417-866-4466 for reservations.

Downtown Springfield and the Downtown Community Improvement District will  also host a second tree-lighting ceremony on Park Central Square that evening for the “older kids.”

The History Museum on the Square will unveil its holiday display at 7 p.m. and “Windows at the Fox,” followed by  a special performance by Tuba Christmas on the gazebo as Park Central Square lights up at 7:30 p.m. The downtown Community Improvement District will provide hot chocolate on the square during the festivities. Coffee Ethic will host an after-party with specialty brews from Mother’s Brewery.

Festival of Lights is a six-week celebration containing a flurry of holiday activities in Springfield’s Center City through New Year’s Day.

Major events, in addition to the Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony, include:

  • Historic C-Street Candyland, noon-2 p.m., Dec. 6.
  • Downtown Springfield Christmas Parade, 2 p.m., Dec. 13.
  • First Night Springfield 2014, 8 p.m.-midnight, New Year’s Eve.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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