Kansas City, Missouri 2021-11-24 22:39:00 –
Kansas City, Missouri (KCTV) – Located at Union Station’s Grand Plaza, the winter indoor wonderland spans 27,000 square feet and 70,000 lights reach a height of 95 feet.
The rear holiday model railroad display covers 11,000 square feet and trains are moving on all scales. This includes the Historic Jones Store Train, a fixture in downtown department stores that is currently non-functional.
“My favorite part was getting on the train and seeing Santa,” said 9-year-old Damek Seitz.
The display will be open to the public on Friday, but Wednesday night was usually for kids who wouldn’t go out to the traditional crowded holiday display.
“Respiratory illnesses tend to be quite difficult for us,” said Erin Albius, the mother of three-year-old Lily with spinal muscular atrophy.
For many of the families participating in the private preview, the crowd was a long-standing concern for COVID, either for health reasons or simply for physical problems.
“I have a wheelchair. I have a son in the spectrum. When I leave home, I have to think a lot about what perhaps the most typical family doesn’t think,” said her mother, Casey Sites.
Her 9-year-old Damek with high-functioning autism was willing to ask us many questions. Her daughter, 11-year-old Hudsyn, suffers brain damage at birth and is non-verbal. Her husband, Dan, explained why the Wednesday night event was so special.
“We have an open space and usually people are standing in front of her so she can roll and see things in action,” said Dan Sites.
Quinn Cunningham is also non-verbal. She was diagnosed with Rett Syndrome at the age of 15.
“It’s neurological,” explained her mother, Angie Cunningham. “She doesn’t speak, but she’s very expressive.
Quinn’s 13-year-old brother, Aiden, rarely goes on vacation with his sister, Quinn. His parents do what they can to keep him from missing, but that often means pairing instead of going out as a group.
“We try to do everything we can as a family, but it doesn’t always work,” said Ryan Cunningham, father of Aiden and Quinn.
“We spend a lot of time in the hospital with respiratory illnesses and seizures,” said Angie Cunningham.
“She spent several years in the hospital near Christmas. When Christmas came, we spent the night in the hospital,” said Aiden Cunningham.
Being together with the family is special, but on the train at the Jones Store, something special happened that they didn’t expect.
Her dad carefully seated her in one of the train cars. He wanted to walk with her, worried that she might have a hard time raising her head. The operator told him it wasn’t an option. Instead, she sat on the engine and coached Quinn. With each round, Quinn saw the lights pass upright.
“This was a big moment,” said Ayden Cunningham. “Because she never sat alone in a place where we couldn’t hold her.”
“Never, never,” echoed Ryan Cunningham. “She is always with one of us just because she doesn’t have much trunk control.”
“It made me nervous, she was going to fall, but she was great,” said Angie Cunningham.
“I’m very happy to be here tonight,” Santa roaming told some children.
The same is true for people in the family who are given the gift of a huge display that is rarely seen.
Holiday Reflection was newly added in 2020. When COVID canceled or significantly reduced some of its traditional holiday events, Union Station devised a walkthrough display as a way to have a bright celebration while maintaining social distance. In 2020, there were 60,000 visitors. This year, we added animatronics such as reindeer songs and penguins songs.
Holiday Reflections are open daily from 10am to 8pm from Friday. I need to get a ticket for a specific one hour time frame. We are not limiting capacity for COVID related reasons, but we are limiting the number of tickets issued per hour to provide a comfortable experience without internal queues. Tickets can be obtained at the door or online in advance. unionstation.org..
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