Ozark Outdoors

Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremonies Saturday welcome elementary children

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At 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, Mayor Bob Stephens will be joined by Santa Santa and Mrs. Claus to flip the switch on 33-foot Norway spruce in Jordan Valley Park that officially kicks off the holiday season with music and lights.

With help from expected throngs of local elementary school students, Springfield Mayor Bob Stephens will signal the start of the holiday season at 5 p.m. Saturday, Nov. 19, by lighting a 33-foot Norway spruce in Jordan Valley Park, east of Mediacom Ice Park, located at 635 E. Trafficwa, at the annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting Ceremony. The musical tree and surrounding park will be lit up with thousands of lights.

Hundreds of children are expected to attend the tree-lighting ceremony, which will include live music, a visit from Santa Claus and other celebrity guests, including everyone’s favorite winter princesses. Santa’s mailbox (a decked-out mailbox provided by the U.S. Postal Service) returns, on-site Saturday night only, for children to send their letters to Santa.

Mediacom Ice Park, owned and operated by the Springfield/Greene County Parks Department, will again offer free ice skating, 5:45-6:45 p.m. that evening. Skate rental is $2.50. Free parking is available at Mediacom Ice Park and Hammons Field. Convenient parking is also available for a fee at the Jordan Valley Car Park on Trafficway.

A bit later at 7 p.m. Saturday, Springfield’s Park Central Square will host another tree lighting ceremony, along with horse-drawn carriage rides and hot cocoa and Christmas carols.

Meanwhile, Ozark’s annual Christmas parade is Saturday evening at 5 p.m. around the historic town square to highlight the sparkle of the holidays.. This year’s theme is A Star Spangled Christmas.

Bass Pro Shops will be hosting Santa’s Wonderland-A Classic Christmas for the ninth year at Springfield’s Bass Pro Shops Outdoor World, the mother ship of the expanding fishing and hunting juggernaut. Each year, Santa’s Wonderland dazzles visitors with its variety of animated Christmas characters in addition to nutcrackers, reindeer and live Christmas elves. Kids can also spend time at one of the activity tables where they can write a letter to Santa, color and do fun crafts, all for free through Christmas Eve.


George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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