MARCH 15, 2018
Christmas in the Park has become one of the Kansas City area’s most beloved holiday traditions and one of Jackson County Parks + Rec’s most celebrated events of the year. It’s not Santa that builds the animated displays and strings the more than 300,000 lights each year, but a group of hardworking, dedicated county associates.
Each year the Parks + Rec Department adds something new to the displays. This past year two new displays were added, Santa’s Castle and a New Year’s Eve Ball Drop. Longtime park operations foreman, Mark Hite led the design and construction of the unique displays. Mark’s displays were built in-house saving the County thousands of dollars.
He also researched the latest technology when recommending the addition of a 21-foot, LED, programmable holiday tree that dazzled attendees. Mark has overseen the conversion of the lights used at Christmas in the Park from incandescent to LED light strands, again saving the County money on repair and utility costs.
Mark was on staff for the very first Christmas in the Park and it was his steady leadership and creative abilities that made the event’s 30th anniversary so special. More than two million visitors have driven through the annual display since it began in 1987.
Jackson County Parks + Rec Director, Michele Newman said, “As long as I can remember there has been one name associated with Christmas in the Park and that is Mark Hite. The gentleman who not only had the vision for what we wanted to do in terms of new displays and adding to the fun for Christmas in the Park, but the gentleman who could take that information and actually put it down on a piece of paper so the rest of us could understand and see it.”
“Mark and his team are absolutely the success story behind the success story of Christmas in the Park,” she said.
He was also serving as the acting Supervisor for Longview Park Operations during the preparation and execution of the 2017 event. The Longview Division is one of the largest to oversee, reaching from Longview Lake to downtown Kansas City and south to Kenneth Road.
“Mark did such an amazing job as acting supervisor with his leadership skills and his we are going to get the job done attitude I am thrilled to say that he is our new supervisor for Longview,” Newman said.