Ronnie, Laurie and Andrew’s Kansas City Christmas Spectacular

Part 1: But instead it just kept on raining

Sometimes you just have to get out of Dodge. Especially if Dodge in this case is St. Louis.

So The Wife comes to me and she says, “Let’s take a few days off and spend a long weekend in Kansas City. We can get a hotel by the plaza and enjoy the Christmas lights.”

“Does this involve Shakespeare or opera in some way?”


“Then I’m in.”

“But there will be shopping. Lots of shopping.”

“It’s too late to back out, isn’t it?”

Now way back in the mid-1980s I spent two years living in the Kansas City Metropolitan Area (Grandview, to be exact) working for the Blue Valley Gazette (no longer in publication). There’s a downtown shopping district in Kansas City called the Country Club Plaza and every winter they deck it out in colored lights in honor of the holiday season. It’s lovely.

During those two years Laurie, who was in school in Columbia, would drive west to Kansas City for a weekend and we would walk around and take it all in. I would get her a nice hotel near the plaza because, you know, there wasn’t space in my one-room studio apartment and we weren’t married and…oh hell, I’m 52 years old, do I still need to lie about this?

Not the train we were going to take to K.C.

Not the train we were going to take to K.C.

Anyway, nostalgia came a knockin’ and we decided to take a break from the insanity all around us and go to the softer, gentler side of Missouri. The original plan was to take the train to Union Station and a cab to the Embassy Suites. The hotel had a shuttle that would take us to the plaza or anywhere else in a two-mile radius. Unfortunately, things got hectic and we didn’t get train tickets in time for the discount so we decided to drive instead.

Friday came and we packed our bags and I loaded up the Ipod with 4 hours worth of good Christmas music (as opposed to the Christmas music they play on Christmas radio stations) and we took off. In the rain. It rained and rained. Pretty much all the way to K.C.

The view from our balcony

The view from our balcony

To my surprise we found our way to the hotel with no problems. The Embassy Suites is a nice hotel with a unique look. We had a room that had a living room with a couch that folded out into Andrew’s bed, then a separate large bedroom. Free HBO. Sadly, there wasn’t a single decent thing on the four days we were in the hotel room. Also sadly, the remote in the bedroom didn’t work worth a darn. I finally called for a new one but some guy came up and played around with it and looked at me like I was a chump for not getting it to work. It worked, but not very well. You had to hold it at an angle and press buttons repeatedly. I spent what little time I had watching TV in the living room, where the remote worked much better. But if I wanted to watch TV in the living room, I would stay at home.

The hotel hosted a happy hour from 5:30-7:30 that offered free drinks and appetizers. The appetizers were pretzels and honey mustard, chips and salsa, and crackers and something that I thought was humus but wasn’t. It wasn’t really worth the wait and we didn’t bother with happy hour again until Sunday night.

If you’re wondering “why the wait?” — well, it seems the RRoy St. Louis Freebie Festival Imperative (question 24 in the F.A.Q. on the ABOUT page) also applies to Kansas City. Everyone — or in this case every 10-to-12-year-old girl who is into cheer or gymnastics — showed up at the Embassy Suites with their coaches and parents. The last time we stayed in Kansas City our hotel was hosting a science fiction convention — which was a far, far better happy accident than finding your hotel is overrun with cheer/gymnastics kids. So much for using the pool and hot tub.

I assumed when it said Embassy Suites On The Plaza that I would walk out the front door and be on the plaza. It was actually a couple blocks walk, which is nothing to champion walkers like the Roy family, but it’s cold in December and besides, free shuttle. We hitched a ride to the plaza which was lit up in all its glory, just like we remembered. Many of the shops were different but then it had been 30 years.


First order of business was finding food. We settled for Jack Stack Barbecue because it was barbecue and we were in Kansas City and it looked decent and we were tired and hungry and it was right there. Thankfully the wait was not long. Laurie and I had The Big Pig sandwich (ham, pork, bacon, provolone cheese, mustard bbq sauce topped with an onion ring. With fries). It was delicious.

We then did a walkabout and took in all the sights and sounds before catching the shuttle back to the hotel. The shopping would come tomorrow.

Next: The Shopping


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