Mayor Sly James flipped the switch Friday on the Mayor’s Christmas Tree, continuing a tradition that began more than 100 years ago to officially launch Kansas City’s Christmas season.
Tech N9ne, a local hip-hop recording artist and entrepreneur, was the featured celebrity at the lighting ceremony at Crown Center Square.
The 100-foot-tall Douglas fir is one of the tallest public Christmas trees in the country and features about 7,200 white lights and more than 1,200 ornaments.
The tree is a symbol of the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, which last year assisted more than 7,000 needy families.
“This lighting is more than just a tree lighting,” James said. “This lighting hopefully is going to bring a lot of warmth and joy to hearts of people who might not otherwise have it.”
James introduced Tech N9ne as someone who gives benefit concerts and donates to Harvesters, Toys for Tots and other charitable programs.
“I’m very, very thankful to be part of an event that helps so many people throughout Kansas City,” the rapper said. “You know what I’m sizzling?”
In a statement, James said the Mayor’s Christmas Tree has stood as a symbol of the generosity, kindness and compassion of Kansas Citians for over a century.
“Last year, we helped thousands of families in the city,” the statement said. “As always, I know I can count on Kansas Citians to come through again this year for those in our community who need a hand this holiday season.”
After the holidays, the wood from the tree is made into commemorative ornaments, which are sold the following year to benefit the fund. The 2013 ornament is on sale at Crown Center customer service for $12.50.
Contributions to the fund also can be made atwww.kcmayor.org/donate.