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Each year, Springfield Mayor Ken McClure is honored to kick off the holiday season by officially lighting the "Mayor's Tree" in Park Central Square. This tradition has grown tremendously over the past few years, morphing from primarily a children's event to one which captures the attention of the entire community and draws spectators from around the region.
In recent years, the event has become an entertaining showcase of performing artists, bringing cultural institutions like Springfield Ballet, and Springfield Little Theatre, to a whole new generation of Springfieldians who may not have access to experience the joy of the arts.
The City of Springfield is once again partnering with the Ozarks Performing Arts League, (OPAL) a consortium of performing arts organizations, to stage a phenomenal holiday show in the tradition of Springfield's impressive and deep entertainment roots.
Citizens will have the option of watching the show on KY3 or coming down the Square to see the broadcast, followed by the live tree lighting. Children and their families will also be invited to take "Selfies with Santa" enjoy a free horse and carriage ride courtesy of the Downtown Community Improvement District, ice skate for free at Jordan Valley Ice Park and enjoy free hot chocolate and candy canes, courtesy of the City. The Mayor's Commission on Children will provide free copies of the book "Twas the Night Before Christmas" at Park Central Library at book readings from 8-9 p.m. New this year will be a cookie station thanks to the OTC Culinary Arts Program and free rides on the SGF Express Holiday Train, which will circle Park Central Square throughout the evening.
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The City is partnering with OPAL to help make this year's tree lighting event possible. The Ozarks Performing Arts League (OPAL) is a voluntary collaboration between Springfield Little Theatre, Springfield Ballet, Ozarks Lyric Opera and Springfield Regional Arts Council – four of the Ozark region's leading arts organizations working together to help offset the devastating consequences of COVID-9 upon the arts economy.
OPAL has established a fund managed by the Community Foundation of the Ozarks which will oversee all financial transactions. All donations will be processes through the CFO site and ultimately disbursed equally by the CFO to OPAL members. Donated funds will be used to a) offset past, current and anticipated revenue losses inflicted by COVID-19; b) maintain ongoing business operations; c) adapt and present performance content as the pandemic continues and; d) plan and market re-opening activities when the public health situation allows.
For more information about OPAL, visit opalarts.org or call 417-864-6199.
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The Mayor's Tree Lighting Holiday Show event serves as the kickoff for the annual Festival of Lights, coordinated by Downtown Community Improvement District.
Here are a few highlights about this unique event:
- The Mayor's Christmas Tree is being dedicated by a local Springfield family and will arrive for installation in Park Central Square.
- 6-9 p.m.: Selfies with Santa, SGF Express Holiday Train, horse and carriage rides, free hot chocolate and cookie.
- 7-8 p.m.: Holiday Show on KY3 and projected on the jumbo screen in Park Central Square. The actual tree lighting will occur just before 8 p.m.
- 8-9 p.m.: Readings of "Twas the Night Before Christmas" at Park Central Branch Library.
For more information, please visit sgffestivaloflights.com or contact Cora Scott at 417-380-3352.
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