This Saturday, East Hills Shopping Center will be kicking off the holiday season early.
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Hosting its annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony on Nov. 19, the mall will be decking the halls and welcoming the community to celebrate with Santa.
“We’ve really put a lot into it every year, into decorating for the holidays, so people can get in the mood when they’re shopping,” said Lindsey Davis, general manager at the mall.
The free, family-friendly event will be held from 6 to 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, at the East Hills Shopping Center, 3702 Frederick Ave. It will feature live music from Michael Shaun Brown, an appearance by Santa Claus and free refreshments.
The event will kick off with a live set from Brown, a country artist who’s made a name for himself in the St. Joseph and Kansas City areas. Davis said after hearing him, organizers thought his music would be a perfect fit for the holidays.
“Every year we just seek out some great talent. This year we wanted to feature Michael Shawn Brown because we’ve heard him from around town and just thought he’d be a great person to feature,” she said.
Along with the performance, East Hills leaders wanted to be sure the celebration was a collaboration of businesses within the mall.
“All of the refreshments are all going to be provided by East Hills tenants, such as Pronto Cafe, Topsy’s and Cookies for Causes. They’re going to be featured at the refreshment table,” she said.
Because the event is a time of celebration and a boost to the mall’s foot traffic, Davis said the goal is to make people feel welcome and in the mood for the season. That means the staff goes all out to prepare.
“All our East Hills staff does the inside decorations and lots of sweat ... lots of hard work goes into it. But it’s important for us to do it every year for people’s shopping experience,” she said.
All of that work culminates with the arrival of Santa, who will help flip the switch to turn on the Christmas lights for the season.
Following the event, Santa will be available 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, from Nov. 25 to 27 and Dec. 2-22. He will also have special hours on Dec. 23 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Dec. 24.
With the weather getting colder, Davis said she hopes the event reminds people that the mall is a warm, fun place to go for Christmas shopping.
“We’re all about just creating a good, family-friendly environment, not only for people to come shop and eat, but just for people to enjoy this environment,” she said. “The mall is a place to come inside to do cool things, of the elements.”