Thanksgiving hasn’t arrived, but judging by the festivities at the Independence Square on Saturday, Christmas is here.

Thanksgiving hasn’t arrived, but judging by the festivities at the Independence Square on Saturday, Christmas is here.


The holiday season started when Independence Mayor Don Reimal and Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders flipped the light switch in a Christmas tree lighting ceremony Saturday evening on the Square.


The Mayor’s Christmas Tree at the north side of the Truman Courthouse was greeted with much crowd approval from the people who gathered around the Square.


Jamie Areoga of Independence looked up at the 25-foot tree. “You know, some people say Christmas shouldn’t start until after Thanksgiving,” she said. “I can see that point of view. But I don’t mind if it does. I love everything Christmas represents. I don’t care if it comes early.”


Areoga and her two children, 5-year-old Jayson and 9-year-old Jessica, don’t mind either. They got to sit on Santa Claus’ lap, telling him what they want for Christmas.


Saturday’s visit with Santa was the second for Jessica this year. She saw him at Bass Pro Shops two weeks ago.


“He knows what I want,” Jessica said with a smile. “The more times I tell him, the more he will remember.”


True, very true, said Jamie, laughing.


Activities began Saturday afternoon with strolling carolers, “living windows” around the Square, a Kids Winter Wonderland, sleigh rides and a visit from Santa Claus.


The fourth grade choir from Bryant Elementary sang.


Craig Deetle of Independence reached into his jacket pocket and pulled out a candy cane.


“This is perfect,” he said as he began to eat the cane. “The lights, the candy, the crowd. I can’t think of a better way to kick off the Christmas season. It probably does come too early, but that’s just because of the heavy marketing and money-making aspect of it. I don’t care that they keep starting the festivities early.”