Santa and Mrs. Claus visit with a youngster following the Christmas in the Park lighting cerermony. Staff photo by Mark Taylor

Mark Taylor
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The holiday season is officially underway in Gardner.
Hundreds of Gardner residents packed Cornerstone Park on Nov. 28  for the 21st Annual “Christmas in the Park.”
The event featured holiday music by Gardner-Edgerton school choirs and a visit by Santa and Mrs. Claus, before lighting the Mayor’s Christmas Tree.
Mayor Dave Drovetta encouraged attendees to embrace the spirit of giving.
He borrowed a quote from the late tennis great Arthur Ashe in summing up the holiday season: “From what we get, we can make a living; what we give, however, makes a life.”
Santa Claus arrived in a fire engine and was joined on stage by Mrs. Claus and Drovetta to lead the countdown to the lighting of the park.
Guests of honor Bubba Starling, recent GEHS graduate and current member of the Kansas City Royals, and Elysia Valverde, a third grader who organized a book drive to benefit tornado-ravaged Joplin, were on hand to turn on the lights.
Once the switch was flipped, the park came to life with more than 20,000 sparkling white lights.
A fireworks display followed.

Elves staff Santa’s Workshop. The workshop will be be open from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 7, 14 and 21. Admission is free. Staff photo by Mark Taylor

The lighting signaled the opening of Santa’s Workshop and children lined up to visit with Santa and watch the Elves at work.
Santa’s workshop will also be open from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. on Dec. 7, 14 and 21.  Admission is free.
Christmas in the Park kicked off the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Fund, which annually collects donations of cash and gifts to assist the less fortunate during the holiday season.
That includes the Christmas For Children Program, which allows individuals, families and organizations to “adopt” a child and purchase gifts for them.
Several hundred children have registered for the program, and all but about 25 have been adopted.
Persons wanting to “adopt” children for Christmas are asked to call (913) 856-0938 or send an email to [email protected]