By Morgan Cormack for the City of Overland Park
Holiday celebrations and activities in Overland Park are not at all what we expected this year, thanks to COVID-19. But that doesn’t mean you can’t still get out and see what our community has to offer, while being socially distant.
You can still get your holiday shopping done in Overland Park!
Oak Park Mall has procedures in place like social distancing and constant disinfecting to keep you safe while you shop. Only small groups of people are allowed and most common areas are closed off. Despite this, almost all stores and restaurants in Oak Park are open with guidelines. The mall is offering extended holiday hours as well, so you can shop early or late to avoid the crowd. Masks are required throughout your entire visit at the mall.
Small Business Saturday is a great opportunity to support local businesses. Downtown Overland Park is hosting “Big Hearts Shop Small” on November 28, with live outdoor music and a 10 percent match to charity donation for many purchases. Plus, for every receipt, you’ll be entered into a Downtown Overland Park raffle valued at $500.
If you’re looking for a truly unique gift, don’t forget the Overland Park Farmers’ Market. The final Saturday of the year is a Holiday Market, featuring the local produce, meats and cheeses you’re used to getting at the market, plus a variety of unique holiday shopping items. Pick up everything from hostess gifts, shelf-stable treats, jewelry, home decor and more on Saturday, Dec. 5 from 8 a.m.- 2 p.m.
There are a variety of other small businesses to consider at other shopping centers in Overland Park, including Prairiefire, Corbin Park, Hawthorne Plaza, and others. Check out the Visit OP website to see even more shopping options and safety protocols at each business.
Doing your shopping online but still want to get out? Check out some of the holiday lights around town.
Holiday Luminary Walk
The Overland Park Arboretum & Botanical Gardens will still hold its annual Holiday Luminary Walk. It’s held for six nights only: November 27th and 28th, December 4th and 5th, and December 11th and 12th. Santa won’t be making an appearance this year to keep him safe. You must buy a ticket online and go on the day you bought it for. If you’re interested, learn more on The Arts and Recreation Foundation of Overland Park website. All proceeds benefit the Arboretum. Masks or face coverings are required.
Holiday Lights on Farmstead Lane
Deanna Rose Children’s Farmstead is closed, but that doesn’t mean you can’t see some beautiful lights along the Farmstead Lane. You can tune in to 90.5 FM to hear your favorite holiday songs and movie music as you watch the show at the main entrance. Please turn off your car’s lights while watching. The event runs from Nov. 26 until January 7th from 5-11 p.m.
Mayor’s Tree Lighting
Head back to Downtown OP on Nov. 20 to see Mayor Carl Gerlach light up Thompson Park at his annual Mayor’s Tree Lighting. Say a socially distant “hello” to Santa Claus, see a performance from the Kansas City Symphony, and watch the tree light up at 6:30 p.m. Then swing by your favorite Downtown OP restaurant to grab a bite to eat.
Plaza Lighting Ceremony
To the north of us, the 91st Annual Evergy Plaza Lighting Ceremony is still on at the Country Club Plaza. The lights will turn on Thanksgiving night. This year, the Plaza Lighting Ceremony is a broadcast-only event. You can watch the full ceremony in the comfort of your home starting at 6 p.m. on KMBC 9 News. After the ceremony, you can visit the lights in person until mid-January when they’re shut off.
Most-Spirited Holiday Home Contest
Decorate your own home and share the spirit with us! Overland Park resident can submit a photo of the outside of your home decorated for the holidays, to be considered for the Most-Spirited Holiday Home contest.
Or, take in your neighbors’ holiday lights from the comfort of your car. We’ll be sharing a map of the contest submissions so you can check out some of the brightest lights in the City.
Ice skating could be the perfect pandemic activity – it’s outdoors, you can wear a mask or scarf, and hopefully you’re keeping your distance from others.
Both the Ice at Park Place in Leawood and Crown Center Ice Terrace in Kansas City will open in mid-November. According to their websites, they have new procedures such as social distancing and mask wearing in place and stay open for the whole season.
Meet Santa Claus
Santa comes to town again this year, but his visit will look a bit different than holidays past.
At Oak Park Mall, you can make an appointment for a contactless visit with Santa, with families sitting six feet away to ensure social distancing. All guests must schedule their visits with Santa on their website. You’ll select a date and time, purchase your photo package, and then you’re ready for Santa. Walk-ups will be allowed during the first and last hour of the day, depending. All visitors must wear masks before, during, and after photos. There are also virtual options to meet the jolly old elf, including story times with Santa and live Zoom calls to the north pole.
Stay-at-Home Holiday Activities
There’s holiday fun to be had if you stay home too.
The Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City is hosting its annual Chanukah Art Contest virtually this year. Children, grab the glue, markers, paints and other craft supplies you already have at home, and get creative. Projects must be original and relate to the story or celebration of Chanukah. Kids can register and submit their artwork online for a chance to win a $50 gift card.
The Johnson County Library hosts virtual live and on-demand storytime sessions via its Facebook page, and many often have holiday themes. You can also join sing-a-longs live via Zoom when you register on the Library website.
Have Holiday Fun Safely
If you choose to venture out this season, you can still have fun without taking a big risk. But as always, if you are not feeling well or may have been exposed to someone with COVID-19, you should stay home and not take part in any in-person festivities.