Canceling Santa Claus, because of COVID-19

Seems that the community hasn’t been good enough, because Santa Claus isn’t coming to town – at least not in the old way of kids being able to sit on Santa’s lap at the lighting festivals. There are different ways to enjoy the holidays, though.

In Wyandotte County, changes in events that normally would gather thousands of people together are being seen today because of the risk of COVID-19.

The Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting event tonight has gone drive-through, with residents able to drive by the holiday tree at City Hall, and kids able to receive a goodie bag while wearing a mask and staying in their cars.

At this drive-through event, people will not be able to gather in groups, or stand around. The event will be from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20, and the drive-through line starts at 6th and Ann.

While it’s different this year, kids may be able to see some of the holiday preparations, however, with a view of Santa Claus and other characters from the windows.

At the Legends Outlets in Kansas City, Kansas, according to a spokesman, there will be no gathering for a holiday tree lighting event today.

Instead, the lights went on earlier today on the holiday tree in the courtyard without a gathering, and will remain on for the holiday season, according to the spokesman.

Kids won’t get to sit on Santa Claus’s lap this year at The Legends – Santa will not be at the center, but there will be a table for kids to drop off letters to Santa at a site near the AMC Theater entrance in the courtyard. It would be too hard to keep kids away from Santa, according to the spokesman.

Some other holiday characters will appear walking around at The Legends, but there will be no hugs this year. There will be no person-to-person contact, according to the spokesman, and visitors to the center will have to socially distance.

Characters’ appearance dates at The Legends include:
o Nov. 21: Leo the Lion, Chase from Paw Patrol and Breena the Mini Pony
o Nov. 27: The Grinch, Olaf and more
o Nov. 28: Buddy the Elf
o Dec. 5: The Grinch
o Dec. 12: Frozen characters

Parents can take kids’ pictures standing by a sleigh near the Legends Lawn, during center hours. The spokesman said masks and distancing are required at each store.

The new restaurant hours in this week’s health order won’t have too much effect on the restaurants there, as many of them closed before 10 p.m. anyway.

At the Legends Outlets, according to a spokesman, there will be smaller activities than in years past, but visitors can still see the Christmas tree lights on their own, socially distanced.

The Legends also will offer holiday movies on the lawn, socially distanced, and text-to-win giveaways. The movie schedule is at www.legendsshopping.com/all-events/.

The Legends will be closed on Thanksgiving Day. The shopping center usually is open until only 8 p.m. The holiday hours are listed on the website as 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. most days, but on Black Friday the hours will be 8 a.m. to 9 p.m., and on Saturday, Nov. 28, hours are 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. On Sunday, Nov. 29, hours will be 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. before going back to 11 a.m. to 8 a.m. on Nov. 30. (Holiday hours are at https://legendsshopping.com/special-holiday-hours/)

The Legends plans more photo ops for kids and parents later in the holiday season.

Mayor’s Downtown Holiday Lighting Festival to be Friday

The Mayor’s Downtown Holiday Lighting Festival will be a little different this year, with vehicles driving past City Hall, and the first 1,000 children receiving a goodie bag in their vehicles.

Because of the risk of COVID-19, the event will be much different this year, and visitors to the event will not get out of their vehicles. The event will be from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 20.

Passengers in the vehicles will be required to wear face masks, unless they are younger than 5 years old.

Groups will not be allowed to congregate around the Christmas tree, on sidewalks or in other spaces.

The Unified Government Health Department staff will be present to make sure everyone stays safe.

The line for the goodie bags will begin at 6th and Ann. Police officers will be on hand to ensure traffic safety.

Sponsors of this year’s event include KMDI, BHC Rhodes, Visit Kansas City, Kansas, MVP Law, BPU and Bank of Labor.

Free COVID-19 testing, flu shots and turkeys Saturday morning

Free COVID-19 testing, free flu shots and a free turkey or chicken with the flu shot or test are available from 10 a.m. to noon Saturday, Nov. 14, at Oak Ridge Baptist Church, 9301 Parallel Parkway, Kansas City, Kansas.

According to a note on the Unified Government Health Department’s social media page, the tests and flu shots are free to all Wyandotte County residents and no appointment is needed.

The flu vaccines are available for those who are 4 to 64 years old.

COVID-19 tests are available to those with or without symptoms or exposure.

The turkeys or chickens will be available while supplies last.

The event is sponsored by the Wyandotte County Health Equity Task Force.

For more information, see https://www.facebook.com/UGHealthDept.