Lots of surprises are in store for this year’s Mayor’s Tree Lighting on Friday, Nov. 16th in Downtown Lee’s Summit. Families are welcome to gather in Howard Station Park as Santa makes his debut, along with a very special guest, Karolyn Grimes.

In 1946, Karolyn Grimes played “Zuzu”, the daughter of George and Mary Bailey in the classic film, “It’s A Wonderful Life,” alongside Jimmy Stewart and Donna Reed.Grimes will join Mayor Bill Baird on stage to flip the switch to light Downtown Lee’s Summit in over 100,000 sparkling lights.

Mayor Baird emphasized the significance of Karolyn’s visit, stating, “Zuzu symbolizes the greatest moment in the most inspirational movie of all time when a community comes together in the most compassionate way.

She brings with her a kindness and “spirit of community” that we can all identify with. I can’t imagine a better way to kick off the giving season.”



The big event begins at 6:30 p.m. in Howard Station Park. Master of Ceremonies for the evening will be Ryan Lefebvre, broadcaster with the Kansas City Royals. Festivities will include free hot apple cider, cookies and choir performances.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a new toy to donate to Toys for Tots. Santa, Mrs. Claus and their elves will make their grand entrance at 7:00 p.m. and will stay for visits with children until approximately 8:30 p.m. Parents may bring a camera to take photos with Santa. Over two dozen Downtown businesses will stay open late for holiday shopping after the lighting ceremony on November 16th.

Karolyn Grimes started acting at the age of four, appearing in 16 films including her iconic role in “It’s a Wonderful Life.” When Grimes was still a teen, she moved to Osceola, Missouri in to live with her aunt and uncle. Grimes stayed out of the spotlight until the mid 1970’s, when the 1946 film surged in popularity, playing on nearly every station during the holiday season.

“It means so much to me to meet people who love the film, and whose lives were touched by its message,” Grimes shared during a phone call to discuss her upcoming visit to Downtown Lee’s Summit. Karolyn lived in the KC area for several years before relocating to her current home on the west coast. “I’m looking forward to seeing old friends and making some new ones during my visit.”

Families will have two chances to meet “Zuzu” in Lee’s Summit:
Friday, November 16th at Smoke Brewing Company from 7-9 p.m.
Saturday, November 17th at Red Door Wine Store from 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

Families are welcome to bring any memorabilia from the film for “Zuzu” to sign. Known for her iconic line “every time a bell rings, an angel gets it’s wings,” Zuzu is sure to bring along bells, ornaments, and Christmas cards, for fans to purchase during her visit.

The Mayor’s Tree Lighting is a collaboration between Downtown Lee’s Summit Main Street and the City of Lee’s Summit. The event is presented by Security Bank of Kansas City, and sponsored by Summit Video Services and The Historic Browning Inn. The appearance of Karolyn Grimes is made possible by the generous donations of MC Power, Paradise Park, Summit Bank of Kansas City, The Mencl Law Firm, Dale Olson Architect, Law Offices of Cain & Cain, Bruce Holiman State Farm Insurance, and Hillory Baird with Baird Realty Group. The holiday lights will remain on through the first week in January.