Kansas City, Missouri Parks and Recreation Department will be celebrating it’s 55th Anniversary of Santa’s Wonderland. This is KC Parks longest running tradition. Santa’s Wonderland started in 1964 from an idea presented by then Park Department Director, Frank Vaydik. Mr. Vaydik worked in Detroit, Michigan before coming to Kansas City. He proposed an idea used by the Detroit Parks of displays of holiday figures and structures on which children could play. Park Department employees liked the idea and talented workers created large figures like a huge Santa, a big snowman with a built-in slide, a large train, toy soldiers, a jack-in-the-box, bass drums upon which children could stomp and more.The first Santa’s Wonderland opened in December 1964 near 39th Street and Gillham Road and was an immediate hit. One of these workers, Vernon Jones, went on to design other figures upon which Penguin Park is based. The Santa’s Wonderland north of the river opened at Lakewood Greenway Park in the area now known as Penguin Park in 1965 supervised by Vernon Jones and supported by Frank Vaydik.
Background: In 1959, the Mayor’s Christmas Tree was placed at the Gillham location. Near it was displayed a Nativity scene. Live animals were part of the Nativity display including sheep and cows. The Nativity display at 39th and Gillham continued through the 1972 holiday season near Santa’s Wonderland. The Mayor’s Christmas Tree moved to Crown Center in 1973.
Today: Santa’s Wonderland is at three different parks. Download Flyer>>
Friday, December 6, 6-8pm at Gillham Park, Gillham Road and 41st Street
Saturday, December 7, 5:30-8pm at Penguin Park, N. Vivion Road and N. Norton Ave.
Saturday, December 14, 2-4pm at The Bay, Longview Tract, 7101 Longview Road