Yes, the kids are happy with their Christmas presents. No, they haven’t stopped griping about their relatively short holiday break from school. But there are still a few things the family can do together before life gets back to its hectic pace as the new year unfolds.

Yes, the kids are happy with their Christmas presents. No, they haven’t stopped griping about their relatively short holiday break from school. But there are still a few things the family can do together before life gets back to its hectic pace as the new year unfolds.



1. See the lights. At least three well-known holiday light shows are still up.

n The Chicago Street Lights in Blue Springs run through New Year’s Eve. They’re on from 5:30 p.m. to midnight.

The drive starts at Walnut and Missouri 7, and there are signs directing traffic. At the end, volunteers take donations, which are given to local nonprofits. Sad note: Chicago Street resident Steve Steiner has organized this event since 1982, and he says this is the last year.

n Jackson County puts on a show, too. Christmas in the Park consists of 175 holiday lighted displays put up at the campground at Longview Lake. People drive through to see the displays. It’s free, though volunteers from local non-profits stand at the exit gates, passing out candy and taking any donations people choose to make.

Hours are 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday and 5:30 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday and Monday. New Year’s Eve is the last night. To get there, take Interstate 470 to Raytown Road, then turn south and take Raytown Road to the Longview Lake beach entrance. Follow the signs from there.

n The Plaza. What would Christmas in Kansas City be without the Plaza Lights? You’ve got a little more time for that one. They are on every evening from 5 p.m. to 3 a.m. through Jan. 13.



2. Put down the sugar cookie and start getting in shape. The city of Independence, for example, has a variety of youth programs kicking off in early January. Six weeks of “TRX Teen Boot Camp” for ages 12 to 17 kicks off Jan. 9. Karate for ages 8 to 15 on Monday and Wednesday evenings starts Jan. 2; parents can participate for free, and there’s no charge for the first month. A two-month pre-dance for 4- to 6-year-olds begins Jan. 7. There are yoga and exercise programs for adults. The classes have fees. Call 816-325-7370 for more on the when, where and how much.



3. Learn the area’s history. The Frontier Trails Museum has a variety of events and attractions.

On Thursdays at 2 p.m., there’s a guided tour, free with regular admission.

Also, next Saturday, an Oregon Trail film series begins. It’s a four-part documentary, with showtimes at 2 p.m. every Saturday in January: “Beginnings” on Jan. 6, “Across the Plains” on Jan. 13, “Through the Rockies” on Jan. 20 and “The Final Steps” on Jan. 27.

The museum is at 318 W. Pacific Ave., a few blocks south of the Independence Square. Hours are 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Saturday, 12:30 to 4:30 p.m. Sunday. Admission is $6 for adults, $5 for seniors (62 and older), $3 for those 6 to 17, and free for kids 5 and younger.



4. Learn some personal history. There are only a few days left to see “Tracing the Trumans: An American Story,” an exhibit at the Truman Library. It runs through Jan. 6. The exhibit tells the story of the families of Harry Truman and Bess Wallace Truman, and it’s free with admission to the library. While you’re there, check out the two permanent exhibits, “Truman: The Presidential Years” dealing with the issues and decisions that the 33rd president faced, and “Harry S. Truman: His Life and Times,” about Truman’s personal story. The museum is closed New Year’s Day but otherwise is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Saturday and noon to 5 Sunday. Admission is $8 for adults, $7 for seniors 65 and older, $3 for children ages 6 to 15, and free for those 5 and younger.



5. Laugh and learn at Union Station. Check out the model trains on display. Learn about black holes in a show at the Arvin Gottlieb Planetarium running through Jan. 13. Take the little ones on a 25-minute journey of color and light as Big Bird, Elmo and their friend Hu Hu Zhu watch stars twinkle over Sesame Street in “Big Bird’s Adventure” the planetarium. It runs through Jan. 18. Also, “Dawn of the Space Age” just opened and runs through March 10. Admission to Union Station is free; the planetarium is $6 for all ages. Call 816-460-2020 or go to www.unionstation.org/ for times.