Every Thanksgiving, the Country Club Plaza in Kansas City, Missouri, comes to life with Christmas lights that glow until mid-January. The Plaza was the first shopping center in the world designed to accommodate shoppers arriving by automobile. Established in 1922 by J. C. Nichols, the Plaza was designed architecturally after Seville, Spain.
A friend and I wanted to photograph the full moon rising over the Plaza on the Saturday before Christmas. We were hoping for a reflection in the water of Brush Creek, but the moon was hidden by clouds. Then the moon appeared almost magically like a huge ornament in an opening in the clouds next to the Giralda Tower. This night is definitely one of the busiest times of the year on the Plaza, so many people were able to enjoy this spectacle. The sidewalks, stores and restaurants were crowded with people.
The Giralda is a Kansas City landmark. It stands 138 feet (42 meters) tall at the corner of West 47th Street and J.C. Nichols Parkway. When urban developer J.C. Nichols visited Seville, Spain in the 1920s, he was so impressed with the 12th-century Moorish tower of Giralda that he built a half-scale replica in the Country Club Plaza. The tower was officially christened by then-Seville mayor Felix Morena de la Cova, along with an official delegate in 1967, the same year in which the both cities became sister cities.
The original Giralda tower was the minaret of the 12th century Muslim mosque; a Christian belfry was added in 1568. The name Giralda means “she who turns” – girar is to turn in Spanish, after the weather vane on top of the tower, a statue representing faith called El Giraldillo.
Horse carriage rides are a popular activity on the County Club Plaza, especially during the Christmas season, when the buildings are aglow with tens of thousands of lights. I do worry about the horses, though.