Mayor's Christmas tree ornaments

Mike Genet

For decades, fourth grade students in the Independence School District gathered at the Community of Christ Auditorium to sing as part of the Mayor's Christmas Concert. 

The event started in 1985 by Mayor Barbara Potts benefits the Community Services League. But the pandemic put a pause on that event in 2020, and the auditorium still has not been reopened to the public. 

Mayor Eileen Weir didn't want to fourth graders miss out again, so she enlisted them to help decorate one of the mayor's Christmas trees. 

Over the course of three days, Nov. 17 to 19, the mayor visited all fourth grade classrooms at the 20 ISD elementary schools, explaining her project and leaving behind supplies to make eco-friendly ornaments. 

“It's a really, fun, fun event; it's something I always look forward to, and I'm sure you were looking forward to, as well,” Weir told fourth graders at Blackburn Elementary. “I came by to ask for your help with a project I came up with.” 

Those ornaments, made with pine cones collected by Parks and Recreation staff at the George Owens Nature Park, were picked up this week from the schools and are to be placed next week on the tree outside the Independence Utilities Center, off 23rd Street and R.D. Mize Road.  

Independence Mayor Eileen Weir explains to fourth graders at Blackburn Elementary how to make the pine cone ornaments that will adorn one of the mayor's Christmas trees.

“We thought, 'What's a little project they could do,” Weir said. “Charlotte Olejko (the city's horticulturalist) helped us. It came together pretty fast.” 

For the ornaments, Weir explained to the students, you tie a piece of string to the top of a pine cone, and then spread Crisco on the cone and roll it in cornmeal and bird seed.  

“It will be sticky like peanut butter,” she said. “The birds can eat them, and they won hurt anything, we can recycle them, and we don't have to throw anything away, and it's good for the environment.” 

One student wondered if it's something he could sample, and another asked if it would be a messy project. 

“I don't think it would be too good if you tried eat it,” Weir answered. “Is it going to be messy? A little bit, so be sure to wash your hands.” 

Weir sought an additional Mayor's Christmas tree this year and ended up with four, courtesy of Meiners Dentistry. They are outside the Utilities Center, at the Uptown Farmers Market, outside Cable Dahmer Arena and along Winner Road in the Englewood Arts District. The arena tree was to be lit up Friday, a city spokesperson said, while the other three have already been lit. The trees will be recycled after the holidays. 

An earlier Mayor's Christmas tree, donated by a citizen, was planted a few years ago in Hiram Young Park near the Square and City Hall. The trees in that park have also been lit up for the holidays.