Independence Square hosts lighting/National Christmas Tree Nov 17

NEWS Release For Immediate Use: November 6, 2012Contact:Janeen Aggen, MediaIndependence Tourism Independence Tourism 913-599-2080 janeena@sbcglobal.net

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Four free family friendly events to ring in the holiday season are all slated in Independence for Friday and Saturday, November 16 and 17. Begin by setting your GPS for the Sermon Community Center, just off the Square at 201 N. Dodgion, for the two day long “Best Little Arts and Crafts Show.” Opening on Friday at 10:00 a.m. and running until 7:00 p.m. that evening, savvy shoppers can explore over 120 booths featuring original crafts, candies, candles, Christmas décor, silver jewelry, spices, woodworking, folk art, candles, fleece hats, scarves and knit items. Concessions will also be available. Parking and admission are free. Questions? Call 816-325-7370 or go to www.ci.independence.mo.us. Saturday hours are 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.

If you still haven’t found the perfect present for everyone on your list, take a five minute drive to the Englewood Station Arts District, along Winner Road and Sterling, to the Third Friday Englewood Art Walk. Galleries and restaurants keep their doors open late, from 5:30 to 9:00 p.m. Art lovers can see artists in action, demonstrations and live music, refreshments and a chance to get up close and personal with locally produced prints, photography, oils, sculpture, jewelry, mixed media and more. Details at 816-252-3372 or www.englewoodstation.com.

On Saturday, the Square shops and restaurants join in the magic of the holidays during the Holiday Open House, held from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Enjoy special promotions while supporting local merchants as you experience one of the many fabulous cafés, taverns or restaurants. The Independence Square Open House would not be complete without the annual Square Christmas Tree Lighting Festivities, also set for Saturday.

Beginning at noon and continuing until 6:00 p.m., you can catch a ride on a mule-drawn sleigh around the Square with Pioneer Trails Adventures for $2.00. The popular Kid’s Winter Wonderland area returns, (from 3:00 p.m. until 5:00 p.m.), offering free children’s Christmas activities such as cookie decorating, letters to Santa, face painting and dancing from Studio 3V Dance Center dancers. A new addition is the memory photo booth. Bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Community Services League for a chance to win a $50 gift certificate from the Independence Square merchants. Santa will visit with children from 3:30 to 5:00 p.m. and concessions such as hot kettle corn, funnel cakes and more will be sold. Adding to the merriment, strolling carolers will entertain the crowd from 4:00 to 5:00 p.m.

You won’t want to miss the arrival of the U. S. Capitol National Christmas Tree around 4:00 p.m. The massive tree, which is en route from the White River National River Forest in Colorado, is making a 23 day tour across the country as it journeys across the U.S. on its way to Washington, D.C. The U.S. Forest Service, with help from their nonprofit partner, Choose Outdoors, invites all people young and old to come celebrate this annual holiday tradition. The tree is being transported on a custom-decorated Mack truck and driven by former U.S. Senator, Ben Nighthorse Campbell. The tree carries a message about sustainable forestry and allows people to assist with raising funds for the Forest Restoration Challenge. This challenge was set up to help areas impacted by the wildfires which devastated areas near Colorado Springs and Fort Collins in the spring of 2012.

Tourism Director Cori Day comments: “"We are honored to welcome the Capitol Christmas Tree to Independence. It is a unique opportunity for our community to share in something very special." Day urges families to sign their names to the giant card that will accompany the tree to the capitol and which will be on display during the holidays.

Upon arrival in Washington, D.C., the tree will be placed on the west lawn of the U.S. Capitol and decorated with more than 5,000 ornaments handmade by Colorado children depicting the tree’s theme, “Celebrating the Great Outdoors. In early December, a tree lighting ceremony will take place and will be available for public viewing throughout the holiday season.

To track the tree’s route, visit www.CapitolChristmasTree2012.com. You can also follow the tree on Facebook (www.facebook.com/CapitolChristmasTree2012), Twitter (www.twitter.com/CapitolTree2012) and Pinterest (www.pinterest.com/capitoltree2012)

The main Square program will begin at 5:00 p.m. and will feature Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders and Mayor Don Reimal, Santa Fe Elementary School Choir, and Ancora Choral Ensemble Group. Promptly at 6:00 p.m., the switch will be thrown by Reimal and Saunders to illuminate the Square, courthouse and the tree, all decked out with twinkling lights and decorations.

The event is sponsored by Jackson County, City of Independence-Tourism, Independence Square Association, Independence Power and Light, Independence Chamber of Commerce, Alliant Tech Systems (ATK), The Examiner, I.B.E.W. Local #53. For more information about the day's activities, call the Square office at 816-461-0065 or visit the Independence Square website at www.theindependencesquare.com. For a complete list of Independence holiday attractions and events, pick up a holiday brochures on the Square or at tourism attractions, go to www.visitindependence.com. End

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