I hate to sound like a curmudgeon the day after Thanksgiving and on the “busiest shopping day of the year,” but will somebody please tell me why — why in the hell — the people who produce the Plaza Lighting Ceremony felt it necessary to add fireworks?
At first (I don’t remember or know when the “new tradition” started), I considered it a mere nuisance — something you could turn your back on and pretty much ignore as you returned to your car among the throngs of people milling about or heading out.
But now — maybe because I’m older and more prone to episodes of nostalgia — the fireworks has come to grate on me. I’ve come to regard it as a significant distraction — a definite detraction — from what otherwise is a most singular and soul-moving event.
We couldn’t make last night’s ceremony because we had invitations to two other gatherings after returning from Lee’s Summit, where we enjoyed the Thanksgiving meal with relatives. But we have been to the ceremony dozens of times, usually watching from atop the Wornall hill, which affords a great view and a speedy, easy exit.
Like millions of others over the years, I have waited with fixed gaze, trying not to blink, for the magic moment when the lights flash on. Like everyone else, I have bathed in that soft, satisfying feeling that all is right with the world and another happy holiday season has officially begun.
But the fireworks…those damned fireworks! Juxtaposed with the Plaza Lighting Ceremony, fireworks are downright pedestrian. I have no idea why the event planners decided to inject ka-booms and ka-crackles into the quiet beauty that follows the flipping of the switch, but, to me, it’s as incongruous as ketchup on the turkey and dressing.
Long ago, fireworks became all too commonplace and over-used. Now, they are a staple at Friday evening Royals’ games and dozens of other events.
In my hometown of Louisville, Ky., a gargantuan fireworks display called “Thunder over Louisville” (mercifully, I’ve never been to it) has become the lead event of the week-long Kentucky Derby Festival.
The Derby itself, of course, is another singular, thrilling tradition. For me, a native Kentuckian, it even surpasses the Plaza lights.
At least in Louisville, however, they haven’t started igniting fireworks immediately after the Derby runners cross the finish line!
Because we didn’t go to the ceremony last night, I was looking forward to seeing the front-page, Plaza lights photo that you can always count on from The Kansas City Star.
To my chagrin and utter disappointment, the photo, by a freelancer named Brian Davidson, featured fireworks erupting over the Ward Parkway tower at the foot of Wornall Road.
I couldn’t even enjoy the lights photographically. Fireworks have now bastardized even the journalistic portrayal of the event.