Merry Christmas from the “Christmas City of the High Plains!”
People from around the world have come to WaKeeney to celebrate the holidays and make special memories with family and friends under the lights of our famous tree. Located on I-70 halfway between Kansas City and Denver, Colorado, it’s the perfect place for people to gather to celebrate the holiday season. Throughout the year our citizens contribute their time, talents, and funding to continue this wonderful tradition and we’d like to thank them and the organizations who make our Christmas Festival a one-of-a-kind event for everyone.
Christmas in Downtown WaKeeney
Stringing up thousands of Christmas lights is never an easy job and it takes a team of professionals to get the job done right.
The effort begins long before the Christmas Festival on the Saturday after Thanksgiving. Workers from the City of WaKeeney prepare the decorations, wrapping the lights and fresh greenery onto the tree’s metal framework and getting them ready to install. Then, along with workers from Midwest Energy, Western Cooperative Electric, KDOT, and Nex-Tech, they take to their bucket trucks to install everything within a couple of days. We truly appreciate their years of dedicated service to making this event happen, in rain, wind, and snow.
The business community of Downtown WaKeeneyhas supported the Christmas Festival faithfully for 69 years and by doing so have made WaKeeney a special place to celebrate the holidays. This year Christi Werth and Skylin Day at TWI Insurance Services were behind the planning of all the Santa’s Downtown Workshop activities—a fun event kids look forward to every year.
The Festival Program
What would Christmas be without the sound of Christmas carols, holiday displays, and Christmas cheer? Volunteers from local organizations and private citizens generously offer their talents to create a festival program full of Christmas spirit. Along with the many supporting volunteers, this year we relied on Tom Kreutzer as our master of ceremonies, the Rev. Jon Anderson from the Zion Lutheran Church as our officiant representing the Trego County Ministerial Alliance, and Anita Schneider who led the crowd in singing our favorite Christmas carols.
Christmas Spirit Around Town
WaKeeney residents showed a lot of Christmas spirit in 2019 by decorating their homes and yards early with festive colors and lights. The merchants of Santa’s Downtown Workshop rewarded their efforts by holding a contest for the best decorated home. The winning homeowner received a prize of $100 in Wampum bucks they could use at any of the participating Downtown WaKeeney businesses.
Festival guests also had the opportunity to go back in time with the Trego County Historical Society Museum. The “Twelve Days of Christmas” display features Christmas scenes and décor from years past, including the original miniature prototype for the famous 35-foot tree located at the city’s center. The exhibit runs from November 30thto January 6th, so it’s not too late to see if something you remember from your grandma’s house is included!
The VFW Auxiliary kept all our guests warm at their annual Soup Supper. We’ve all come to look forward to the delicious bowls of homemade soup and desserts their members cook up to celebrate the community spirit. Nothing tastes better than a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter’s night!
Christmas Shopping Made Easy
Christmas shopping was made easy this year when over forty vendors from the Trego Co. Home-Based Business Association offered their wares during the 19thAnnual Christmas Bazaar. This year’s event was so large it filled the Fairground’s Commercial and 4-H buildings, and the TCHS Commons area with products that ranged from home décor, to health and beauty. The Home-based vendors are an important part of our festivities and we appreciate all the work they do throughout the year to fill this event with their exciting products.
The merchants of Downtown WaKeeney continued their tradition of keeping their doors open for extended hours of shopping. They offered their customers great holiday specials and participated in “Santa’s Downtown Workshop” where children enjoyed different crafts and activities at each of their stores. They also added to the season of giving by sponsoring many giveaways and activities for our festival guests.
Support from Our Local Officials
Support from the officials of the City of WaKeeney is vital to making the Christmas Festival a success. Mayor Kenneth Roy and our City Council Members: Irene Dirks, John Fose, Brandon Payne, Lynelle Shubert, and Allen Weigel and City Administrator Hardy Howard designate funding for the festival. They split the overall cost of supplies—the fresh greenery, light bulbs, etc.–with the Travel & Tourism Department and allow city employees to get them ready for installation.
As they do throughout the year, officers from the WaKeeney City Police Department and the Trego County Sheriff’s Department were present to help guide traffic and ensure that everyone had a safe holiday celebration. Their presence also provided members of our community a great opportunity to meet the people who keep us safe and prepare Child ID Kits for their children.
A special thank you goes to the members of WaKeeney’s Travel & Tourism Committee for the time and attention they dedicate to making the Christmas Festival a memorable event. Appointed by the City of WaKeeney, this volunteer,seven-member committee includes Lynelle Shubert, Tasha Malay, Skylin Day, Cindy Scanlon, Brianna LaMotte, Kirk Johnston, & Mark Wood and is led by its director, Cathy Albert. Their dedication is the foundation of everything we enjoy at the Christmas Festival.
Our Special Guest: Santa Claus
Christmas wouldn’t be the same without a visit from Santa Claus! Lynelle & John Shubert drove the man of the hour and his elf down Main St. accompanied by two local drummers, Dawson Arnold and Alex Cleland. After flipping the switch that turned on the tree’s lights, Santa and his elf visited with children at Gibson’s Health Mart, where they told him all their wishes for Christmas.
Thanking the Community
Our gratitude extends to the entire community of WaKeeney for their continued support of the events surrounding the Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony. The traditions found in our “Christmas City of the High Plains” would not be possible without their participation. They’ve helped us and our guests celebrate and create treasured memories that will last a lifetime.
Looking Forward to the 70thAnniversary Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony in 2020
Next year will be extra special, as we celebrate seventy years as the “Christmas City of the High Plains.” In preparation, we will be building a new Santa House in North Pole Park, funded by a grant from the Dane G. Hansen Foundation. We are also continuing to sell the “Get Lit” t-shirts for $10 each to complete fundraising for the installation of perimeter lights on the Courthouse, a project planned for Spring 2020.
Thank you to all the people who have joined us in celebrating the holidays in WaKeeney, the “Christmas City of the High Plains!”