I haven’t gone to the Country Club Plaza for decades to see the famous lighting ceremony on Thanksgiving evening. Big crowds in tight spaces aren’t my thing.
But I still see the lights flipped on almost every year — and do it a day before most other Kansas Citians. It’s all because of what I discovered on a cold November morning in 1979.
I was here for a job interview with The Kansas City Star, driving back with a friend to his apartment. After a late night of work and going out afterward, we drove by the Plaza shortly after 2 a.m.
And the lights were on.
We discovered that Plaza officials hold a test lighting that starts at 2 a.m. on the Wednesday before Thanksgiving. Makes sense, right?
Over the years, my wife and I took my young daughter and son to the 2 a.m. lightings, and then dragged our foreign exchange students down there when our children were in high school. (We have a Japanese student this year, and plan to be at the Plaza early Wednesday.)
We always watch the event with a few dozen other hardy souls from the top of the building that now houses the Cheesecake Factory, with a good view of the Plaza.
The lights almost always come on straight up at 2 a.m. Which means you can ooh and aah for a few moments, then go home and back to sleep.
Best thing: You don’t have to trudge down with family in tow and try to find a parking place on Thanksgiving Day on the crowded Plaza.
See you there?