Right now, there’s a certain something in the air: excitement, good will … even a bit of magic. It’s a special time of year when families and friends gather, when children revel in excitement, and everyone tries to be a little gentler with one another.
Darol Rodrock loves this time of year and recognizes its importance to families. Growing up shuttled from foster home to foster home, such holiday joys were often something he could only glimpse through the windows of other people’s homes. So when he started planning his communities, he wanted to be sure the magic of the season could be shared with everyone.
So in the early 1980s, Darol created the Rodrock Development Moms’ Council. An array of family-friendly activities are planned thanks to the Council, including spring egg hunts, Memorial Day pool-opening parties, July 4th bike-a-thons, outdoor movie nights and pumpkin-carving contests.
But it’s this time of year when the Council outdoes itself. Every December, families get to adore a spectacular hayride and caroling event, featuring huge Belgian draft horses pulling wagons down decorated streets. Santa even comes to visit, talking to each child within the community.
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These gatherings help new neighbors have fun, but they also build a strong sense of community and help provide families – and more important, children – a safe place to grow up. And it’s a difference that resonates deeply with residents.
“The Moms’ Council has provided such a sense of community for our neighborhood and our family,” says Aubree Barbosa of Grayson Place. “When we were looking for a new home, we were hoping to find a neighborhood that had exactly what the Moms’ Council helps provide. The Moms’ Council is about so much more than just holiday events. It’s about the feeling of celebration and community it brings to the neighborhoods lucky enough to have them.”
Aubree’s most beloved event – and the favorite of the majority of her neighborhood—is the holiday sleigh ride and Santa visit. “It’s such a magical time of year, and while having Santa visit your neighborhood is an event in itself, the sleigh ride brings just as much excitement for the kids and families! Our ride is usually early in December, so it just helps to start the holiday season off right. It’s a wonderful event and always has the highest turnout.”
Lori Anderson lives in Olathe’s Stonebridge Trails, and her favorite event is also the Holiday Hayride. “Santa comes to visit and talk to each child. There are cookies and hot chocolate after your horse-drawn hayride. It’s so magical to see each child’s face light up as they sit on Santa’s lap and tell them what they wish for this Christmas. The joy and happiness in their eyes as the dream of Santa becomes real to them makes it such a wonderful event.”
This year, luminaries lit the walks in front of the gathering locations where residents enjoyed a cup of hot chocolate, cookies, and a visit with Santa, says Tammy Coody, the Moms’ Council Coordinator for Rodrock Development. Horse-drawn wagons and caroling were highlights of the evening, while residents bundled up and rode through the streets seeing the many lights and decorations of their neighbors. But the fun didn’t stop there! Many neighborhoods also planned holiday parties, dinners, and wine tastings so the festivities could continue throughout the month.
Keeping the holiday spirit alive is a priority in Rodrock communities both new and old. In fact, at Windham Park at 131st and Slater in Overland Park, an entire street is renamed “Christmas Place” and is decked out from top to bottom with lights and décor. The neighbors all participate, making their community a fantastic drive for those who adore Christmas lights.
“I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told how grateful people are to have this concept offered to them,” Tammy says. “The Moms’ Council is so important because of the busy lives we lead. It offers the opportunity for residents of all ages to participate in family-oriented activities right in their own ‘backyards.’ It provides a sense of neighborhood connectedness, as well as a sense of belonging. I believe we all still seek that, maybe more so now than ever.”
“The Moms’ Council is such a great way to not only engage with your neighbors but to help create memories for your children that will last a lifetime,” adds Aubree. “And there’s no better season for memory-making than this one!”
For more information, visit Rodrock.com.
On the web: Rodrock.com