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Nick’s Picks | Thanksgiving Week Stuffed with News and Fun Count Your Blessings

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)
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5 minute read

It’s going to be a short week for many Kansas Citians as we celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday.

If we dig deep enough, we can give thanks for many blessings. But a national survey found 66% of Americans say concern about the economy and rising prices are affecting their Thanksgiving plans. 

The political news site The Hill has been tabulating the costs of your holiday feast and reports that Thanksgiving dinner will cost 20% more this year.

Now you’ll know why the offerings on your in-laws holiday table are a little skimpier than normal.

 Also be aware, a larger number of retailers are closing for Thanksgiving this year. That includes Hy-Vee and Walmart. 

Hy-Vee CEO Jeremy Gosch said this is the first time in the company’s 92-year history that all of its stores will be closed on Thanksgiving. He called the decision a small gesture of thanks to staff members who have endured two of the most painful and challenging years in the grocery store business.

World Cup Watch Party

It’s that time, once every four years, when you hear sports announcers around the globe scream “GGGOOOAAALLL” for what seems like a minute or more.

It’s the World Cup … and large crowds are expected in the Power & Light District this afternoon for the first World Cup watch party.

The U.S. men’s team is returning to soccer’s biggest stage for the first time in eight years. The United States failed to qualify for the tournament in 2018.

The U.S. team’s first match-up in this World Cup is against my home country of Wales.

But you don’t have to travel 7,000 miles to Qatar to watch the games. You can see all the action for free on the 40-foot-wide, 18-foot-high outdoor screen at KC Live in the Power & Light District.

And unlike fans in Qatar, you can drink beer while you watch.

This afternoon’s game starts at 1 p.m.

It’s one of four watch parties scheduled for this week.

KC Live will also broadcast Tuesday’s matchup between Mexico and Poland. That game starts at 10 a.m.

You can watch the United States take on England on Friday and Mexico’s game against Argentina on Saturday afternoon.

Catching Up

Sunflower Showdown

If you’re not watching the World Cup, there’s a lot of other sporting action headed your way this Thanksgiving week.

The biggest local matchup is the Sunflower Showdown between KU and K-State. And this year, it’s going to be a national showcase. The clash of Kansas football teams will air on Fox Sports as a primetime evening game.

You can watch at 7 p.m. this Saturday.

And the Chiefs are back home at Arrowhead Stadium. 

The Chiefs host the Los Angeles Rams this Sunday. It’s an afternoon game. Kickoff is 3:25 p.m.

Plaza Lights

For many Kansas Citians, Thanksgiving has become the official launch of Christmas.

This Thursday is the Country Club Plaza lighting ceremony. And this years’ celebrity flip switcher is Bob Kendrick, the president of the Negro Leagues Baseball Museum.

If you don’t want to wait around, the actual flip of the light switch will take place at 6:52 p.m. on Thanksgiving night.

The holiday spirit continues at Crown Center with the Mayor’s Christmas Tree Lighting

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas will flip the switch this Friday during an hour-long ceremony, starting at 5:30 p.m. 

And if traveling downtown seems too much of a hassle, you can experience thousands of holiday lights at the Overland Park Arboretum. 

You get to stroll through acres of winter woods illuminated by candlelight, while carolers serenade you as you imbibe on a hot toddy or other festive beverage. 

The Overland Park Arboretum Luminary Walk begins Friday night and continues through Dec. 17.

Country Club Plaza holiday lights
This year’s Country Club Plaza lighting ceremony will be fully in-person. (Courtesy | Visit KC)

Straining KC Hospitals

Local health leaders are warning for the fourth straight week about overwhelmed emergency rooms and urgent care centers.

Although lingering cases of COVID are one factor, the latest surge is largely due to increasingly virulent strains of the flu and other respiratory infections.

The company that handles hospital transfers in the Kansas City metro reports up to four times as many requests for bed space.  And there are fewer doctors and nurses to treat them.

It’s estimated that there are 15% fewer people working in Kansas City hospitals than before the pandemic. Many have retired early or exited the field due to burnout.

Children’s Mercy Hospital has already hit capacity. Last week, 15 kids were on a waiting list for open beds.

Children’s Mercy has joined with several other pediatric hospitals in asking the federal government to declare a public health emergency to help them deal with the surge in respiratory infection cases.

Police Funding

A major holiday is always an opportune time to bury bad news.

Companies announce layoffs when they think fewer people are paying attention. Political leaders may choose this time to greenlight unpopular new laws or ordinances when there’s less scrutiny from the media. And judges may issue rulings on contentious cases in an effort to limit public backlash.

Which brings us to the explosive and divisive issue of police funding in Kansas City.

It’s about to get a whole lot messier.

Just a few hours after Missouri voters approved a statewide amendment requiring Kansas City to spend more money on its police force, Mayor Quinton Lucas filed a legal challenge claiming the measure is unconstitutional.

While a judge could rule on that case this week, members of the Board of Police Commissioners have now filed a separate lawsuit claiming Kansas City has been “cooking the books.”

The suit argues City Hall has been deliberately undercounting its budget so it has to give less of its revenue to the Kansas City Police Department. 

The cross claim alleges the city is cheating cops by deliberately leaving out developer subsidies and other budget items. 

Could there be a court ruling on that case as most of us are checking out for the holiday?

Lucas says if the suit is successful it could freeze development in the city and potentially undo incentive tools designed to attract new companies.

It could also seriously complicate those new plans by Kansas City Royals owner John Sherman to relocate the team to a new $2 billion ballpark village downtown.

There’s a lot at stake as we enter this Thanksgiving week.

A row of police line up in the middle of the street, flanked by demonstrators on the left and right.
Police stand in line during Black Lives Matter demonstrations in Kansas City in Summer 2020. (Cody Boston | Flatlalnd)

Mission Gateway’s Fate

A cat has nine lives.

The Mission Gateway project in Johnson County has had far more than that.

It’s come back more times than Jason in “Friday the 13th.” 

But this week, the Mission City Council is promising a final decision on the metro’s most beleaguered and cursed piece of real estate.

Will council members vote tonight to approve a new round of tax incentives after 16 years of false starts and broken promises?

It’s hard to figure out what they’re voting on any longer. 

Is it a promised new entertainment mecca? Is it a food hall?  A hotel? Apartments? 

No matter what, it seems hard to believe local elected leaders won’t say yes to some form of a slimmed down, scaled back version of a plan.

To do otherwise would be to consider the unthinkable. Scrapping the entire half-completed project next to Shawnee Mission Parkway and starting all over again.

KC Nutcracker Goes to Washington

This is flattering.

The Kansas City Ballet’s production of “The Nutcracker” gets to be in the national spotlight this week as it begins a special week-long engagement at the Kennedy Center in Washington D.C.

Kansas City’s premier dance company will perform seven shows at the prominent theater about a mile from the White House before returning to Kansas City for its holiday run at the Kauffman Center for the Performing Arts.

The Eagles Have Landed

If you’re close to downtown this week, you may hear thousands of Kansas Citians singing the words to “Desperado” and “Take it Easy.” 

That’s because the Eagles are flying into town. 

Fifty years after first appearing in Kansas City, the band will return with a full orchestra and a choir to perform its 1976 album, “Hotel California,” plus some of their other memorable hits from “Take It to the Limit” to “Tequila Sunrise.”

You can catch the Eagles at T-Mobile Center this Wednesday night.

Nick Haines tracks the week’s most impactful local news stories on “Kansas City Week in Review,” Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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