By Dennis Minich
I actually caught a bit of the holiday spirit Saturday evening. There have been Christmas events with the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lightings on the Harrisonville Square virtually every year since I have lived here. I can remember a couple of years when the event was cancelled because of weather, but for the most part there has been one every year. I have attended most of them and I had gotten to the point I didn’t get very excited about them. You’ve seen one, you’ve seen them all. But this year was very different.
I knew something special was going on when I arrived and had to look for a place to park. All of the lots in the area of the square were full. Approaching the square I saw people, lots of people milling about. Once on the square, it was amazing to see so many buildings lit up and people carrying bags with things they had purchased. There were lines to ride the train, there were people filing through The Vault where a “Birthday party for Jesus” was being held, the meeting room of the Chamber of Commerce building was full of folks eating chili, kids lined up for photos with Santa and lines of adults filed into stores stocked with holiday goodies. It was pretty clear this was not the typical Christmas on the Square I had grown accustomed to.
Thinking back, I think there may have been one time where the crowd was similar to Saturday’s. But it would have been the mid-1900s. I remember that night because my son was young and I remember the line to see Santa on the courthouse steps. In those days, Norm Geyer donned a red suit on such occasions. It was very cold, but many people were on hand. I think the next year the weather may have forced the event to be cancelled and it never really seemed to regain its appeal.
But that changed Saturday night. Major kudos go to the Love the Square organization. Things were festive and bright. Instead of complaining about the cold, most people were laughing and visiting, it was almost like a scene out of a nostalgic Christmas movie. One thing that really impressed me was the attention to detail Love the Square took. Even the planters outside many of the shops, which would be empty this time of year, were filled with holiday-inspired plants. While at times, I have not seen eye-to-eye with Love the Square, there are certainly starting to make a believer out of me. Every event seems to be getting a little better and drawing a few more people. I can see the Christmas event becoming even bigger in the future as more shops open in the square area. And Love the Square deserves much of the credit for the advancements being made. It should not be forgotten, these are volunteers makin gall these things happen.
Thanks for a great evening.
One other celebratory note, it’s a great time to be a Bobcat, as in Drexel bobcats. Last week the football team won the state 8-Man title, taking out the state’s No. 1 ranked team in thrilling fashion. How far the team has come in a short amount of time. I remember just three years ago, I covered Drexel’s last game in the 11-Man ranks. They only had 12 players going and one got hurt. Shortly afterward, another got hurt and the coaches had to figure out which one was hurt least to keep going. But even at that, they didn’t give up and battled until the very late going. It was a valiant effort.
The move to 8-Man was tough, but it has paid off bigtime. The purpose of sports is to let young people play and learn. And in just three years, Drexel has climbed all the way to the top of the heap and it is well deserved. Congratulations.
Next week, the Drexel’s girls basketball team from 1996-97 will be honored into the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame. I really wish I could attend the ceremony because I was still a sportswriter for the Democrat-Missourian that season and I got to follow their trek to the crown. What a great team it was, what great memories it serves, how shocking it is to believe that was 25 years ago. But to the Lady Bobcats, Congratulations, again and honor well deserved.