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A small-town guide to Kansas Christmas lights


Lovers of sun light, rejoice. Soon, the winter solstice will pass for another year. Even though days grow longer only a few minutes at a time, we’ll soon enjoy more sunshine than darkness in a 24-hour span. Unfortunately, it takes a month or so of incremental minutes before longer days are noticeable, so until then let’s bask in the glow of Christmas lights.

For those who call North Central and Northwest Kansas home, residents can thank small town leaders for honoring this season with festive street decorations. Depending on the size of the village, those lights can be an illuminated bell, wreath, or star on each Main Street light post. A central focus like a giant Christmas tree or manger scene accents the central crossroads of some communities.

Bogue, WaKeeney, and Phillipsburg have Christmas trees in the middle of Main Street. In the first two, the big decoration is literally in the middle of an intersection. Anyone cruising Main gets the full effect of driving past a triangle of lights. In Phillips County, that huge tree is actually on the courthouse square, but it’s so large, it brightens the entire block. In addition to these cheerful centerpieces, smaller decorations add festive flair to the central drag. If you drove downtown in a grumpy mood, you’d leave smiling after seeing the pretty lights.

Once you exit the Interstate in Ellis, illuminated poles guide folks home or to the center of town where a lovely manger scene appears among festively draped trees and bushes on the old green. After you reach this peaceful park, it’s easy to forget you’re in the middle of flyover country. It seems more like Mayberry USA.

After dark, Christmas lighting adds even more charm to Damar’s quaint French village-style main street. Once dusk falls, it’s hard to remember you’re in Kansas when you look south at the silhouette of a French style cathedral spire or read French words painted on the sides of tiny shoppes.

Further north on Highway 9, the tiny burg of Edmond electrifies and wreathes its city park. Coming into town from either direction after dark is an aha moment when you realize you don’t need much population to string lights and hang greenery. It’s a pleasant surprise on a lonely road.

Fifteen miles east down the same road, you run into Logan. Bright bulbs zigzag up Main Street, linking one radiantly decorated light pole to another. Residents add their own touches to add warmth to cold December nights. It’s clear this is a special time of year in this town.

Fifteen miles later, you hit Glade and spy all four Christmas stars brightening the quadrants of the main drag before you leave town. If you stay on 9, Kirwin’s colorfully lit old town square would charm even Scrooge.

No matter what direction you drive across the prairie, you’ll find Christmas alive and well in towns big and small. Residents ante up the change to both buy the bright decor and to pay for extra kilowatts used this time of year. 

Yes, prairie folks are antsy for longer days, but we know how to do a little brightening of our own until Mother Nature turns the light on.