The Plaza Lighting Ceremony

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As Thanksgiving approached this year, my girlfriend and I had several discussions about our traditions.  Her traditions included a big meal with turkey and all the fixings.  We made all those foods over the last few days.  We toted them up to my family’s house yesterday and had a great meal.  It wrapped up just in time to head home for my Thanksgiving tradition.

For a majority of the last twenty years my Thanksgiving nights have been spent watching Christmas lights with tens of thousands of friends and neighbors.  Thanksgiving night in Kansas City is when people gather to watch the Country Club Plaza turn into a beautiful, glowing, masterpiece.  With the flip of one switch, the twenty or so square blocks of The Plaza become illuminated.  The countries oldest automobile inspired shopping district becomes even more beautiful.  This tradition has been happening for at least twice as long as I have been alive and is one of the great things about Kansas City.

I will see the lights turn on thirty or so more times before they leave them off in January.  I live and work in the neighborhood.  In a few days it will just be the reason traffic drives me crazy.  I am certain that any number of censored rants will eventually include “those damn lights.”  For one night though it is magical.  Last night I took a camera with me to capture what makes it so magical.  Neither the camera nor my photo skills were strong enough to capture the sense of the moment.  I still thought I would share a little of my tradition with all of you.

(Click on any picture to see it in full size)

For weeks this is what the lights have looked like

Before the lights it is still very pretty

And then they flip the switch

It is very difficult to photograph fireworks

Hope everyone had a wonderful Thanksgiving.  Come back tomorrow for another installment of weird restaurant stories.  For some daytime pictures of The Plaza, check out my review of the 2010 Plaza Art Fair.  For some great aerial photographs of the lighting ceremony, check out the KCTV5 slideshow.

 

Plaza Art Fair

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For those of you from Kansas City, I wanted to provide a recap of the most popular part of the Plaza Art Fair.  Sure they call it an art fair, but by far the most common activity is eating the food offered by Plaza restaurants while walking the streets sipping a cocktail.  When I made passing mention of it in a previous post, I searched unsuccessfully for a site detailing the food offerings. So on Sunday afternoon I went back to the art fair to photograph the booths.  Hopefully this provides you with fond memories during the 51 weeks worth of waiting for next year’s event.

For those of you not from KC, this is interesting on a different level.  The Country Club Plaza is Kansas City’s premier dining and shopping district.  During the art fair over 100,000 visitors will come to The Plaza to see art and sample some of the local restaurant’s fare.  This not only represents a great marketing opportunity, but also a huge opportunity to generate revenue.  A successful art fair booth can generate $20,000-$50,000 in revenue on top of a large spike in business inside the restaurant.  In order to seize this opportunity you must build, staff, and stock a freestanding restaurant complete with kitchen.  The visual appeal of your booth, the quality of your offerings, and the value you provide will determine your success.  It is a high risk venture with the potential to do more volume in the free standing booth than most restaurants in America will do in a week.

Some restaurant chose not to participate this year.  Notable no shows included The Cheesecake Factory and Buca Di Beppo.  I tried diligently to document all those who did participate.  I also did some research and as best I can tell will be the first to reveal to the internet the winner of the Plaza Art Fair best booth award.  Here are the booths in alphabetical order.  Click any picture to see a larger version.  A breakdown of their food offerings can be found here.

810 Zone

Blanc Burgers and Bottles

Bo Lings

Brio

Classic Cup

Figlios

Fred P Ott's

Houston's

In gre di ent

Jack Stack

Kona Grill

M&S Grill

O Dowd's

PF Changs

Plaza III

reVerse

Ruth's Chris

Starker's

The Capital Grill

The Granfalloon

The Melting Pot

Tomfooleries

Topsy's

And The winner of the 2010 Plaza Art Fair best booth award goes to……

McCormick and Schmick

I hope everyone who attended had a great time.  I hope everyone who didn’t get to make it found this post a nice way to enjoy it vicariously.  I hope everyone who worked it for three days straight recovers soon.  This is a great event for the area and one that definitely draws customers down to the Plaza.  Only 51 more weeks until the 2011 Plaza Art Fair.  I hope my body has recovered by then.

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