Drive-thru lighting event includes Santa visit, fireworks show

by Erica Peterson

The city of Independence may have had to change its plans for the annual Holiday 
Tree-Lighting on Public Square, but that didn’t stop 350 children from getting a drive-by visit with Santa Claus and the community from getting a fireworks show.

Rather than having the traditional gathering at Public Square to kick off the holiday season, the city organized a drive-thru event on Dec. 5. 

Lighting displays can be seen all through the city campus. Photo by R. Crane

“The night was a wonderful success,” said Communications Director Alla Lora. “The Facebook posts were heart-warming, and residents appreciated having a safe, family event.”

Residents drove around Public Square and Elmwood Park and enjoyed lighting displays from their cars, as well as saw Frosty and Rudolph. If they tuned in to 93.7 FM, they heard Christmas music and directions for the evening.

Parents were invited to pre-register, including the number of children under age 10 in the car. Those who registered were able to visit with Santa from their cars at the Civic Center, where he sat in a sleigh with Mayor Greg and Lyn Kurtz. The kids received a stocking from Santa. Everyone was asked to stay in their cars and wear masks.

Cars got to drive up to the Civic Center for a distanced visit with Santa Claus, who joined by Mayor Greg and Lyn Kurtz in his sleigh. Photo by A. Lora

Those who couldn’t make the visit were able to register with Community Services for a Zoom call with Santa on Dec. 13. 

The city collected food for the St. Michael’s Food Pantry and had a Salvation Army Kettle on campus during the event. 

The nearly 2-and-a-half hour evening ended with a fireworks show at 7:30 p.m., with the fireworks originally planned for Independence Day. Residents got to enjoy the show from their cars parked in Independence High School and Middle School lots.

The fireworks show originally planned for July 4 ended the festivities. Photo by R. Crane

For those who didn’t make it to the event, a video of the festivities shot by Kyle Johnston of Heart and Fist will be posted at

Feature image photo caption: The city of Independence lit up not only the city campus, but also the sky, as fireworks capped off its drive-thru tree-lighting celebration on Dec. 5.  Photo by A. Lora