Downtown Christmas decorations live on

Michael Bushnell
Publisher


This week we feature a Chrome-style postcard showing Kansas City’s downtown shopping district decorated for Christmas.


The massive crowns that hung over key intersections downtown were the brainchild of the Downtown Merchants Association in an attempt to bring shopping traffic back to downtown from the suburbs and new shopping malls such as Blue Ridge and Antioch. Originally hung in 1962, each crown was 13 feet high, 17 feet in diameter and weighed over 2,000 pounds.


Installation required special brackets mounted to the third floor of the buildings, as well as aircraft grade cable strung through the crowns to suspend them over the intersections. Additionally, each crown had to have its own electrical transformer to power the hundreds of 60-watt bulbs.


The original crowns only hung downtown for four years through 1966. A set of new, lighter crowns were ordered for the 1967 season, along with smaller crowns that could be mounted to light poles. However, shopping trends were changing and more and more people chose the suburban malls versus heading downtown for Christmas shopping. The massive crowns were retired after the 1976 season. The smaller crowns were sold to Kansas City, Kan., where they were displayed in their downtown district through the mid 1990s.


It has been reported that some of the larger crowns were sold to the city of Holton, Kan., for repurposing as jungle gyms. In 2004 Zona Rosa revived the tradition of displaying similar crowns over key intersections of their northland shopping district.


This postcard was published by James Tetirick, 619 W. 33rd street in Kansas City, Mo. The only message reads: “Louise Draper, August 4, 1968.”

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