By Susan Redden
JOPLIN, Mo. —
The decorations and carols made it look and sound like Christmas — but many Joplin area residents were in their shirtsleeves and light jackets on Friday night when they gathered to see the unveiling of holiday windows at Joplin City Hall.
“Last year it was cold and the year before it was snowing,” said Joplin City Councilman Gary Shaw, who presided at the event and a Christmas-tree-lighting ceremony that followed at Spiva Park.
The weather probably helped bring out the larger-than-normal crowd for the unveiling, said Patrick Tuttle, director of the Joplin Convention and Visitors Bureau.
Children, along with parents, grandparents and other spectators, clustered on the sidewalk around the building at Sixth and Main streets as curtains were pulled back to reveal a Route 66 Christmas with scenes from Chicago, Ill., to Santa Monica, Calif.
Youngsters seemed most interested in a depiction of Schifferdecker Park, where a Christmas elf was pushing Santa in a swing. Also popular were vintage toys used in some other scenes, plus a 40-foot model train display in operation inside City Hall by members of the Joplin Model Railroad Club.
Kristen Cox, Joplin, said her two young sons wanted to come see the display, adding “and I did too.”
Patsy Terrell, of Hutchinson, Kan., said she timed a visit to Joplin so she could be at the unveiling.
“I love Christmas, and I love what they’ve done here,” she said. “I love the nostalgia and the atmosphere; it’s such a cool part of Christmas past. It’s making memories for the little kids; these will be things they remember about their hometown.”
Shaw credited City Clerk Barbara Hogelin and volunteers June Stokes and Dixie Boyd Carter for their efforts organizing and constructing the display. A holiday window display has been a feature at City Hall since 2009, as an homage to history and to the elaborate holiday displays that were in the building when it was Newman’s department store.
Performances of the “Living Christmas Tree” are scheduled through Monday at Ozark Christian College, with “A Seussified Christmas Carol” today and Sunday at Missouri Southern State University. Dickensfest, a production of the historic Murphysburg District, will be Friday through Sunday, Dec. 7-9, and the KCS Holiday Express train will stop in Joplin at 4 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 11.
Among other highlights of the season are the annual Joplin Jaycees Christmas parade at 6 p.m. Tuesday, preceded by a party at Central Christian Center, 417 S. Main St.