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6 Free Or Almost-Free Things To Do In Kansas City This Weekend

Esther Honig
KCUR 89.3
Lindsey Griffith, a Fairy Princess for 2014, visits with sisters Charlotte and Violet at Zona Rosa Shopping Center in the Northlands.

It’s better to give than to receive, without a doubt.

But it takes cooperation. There’s no way for any giving to happen without someone receiving on the other end. So here’s this weekend’s big ask: Take the free or almost free things offered to you.

That might be a simple pat on the back or a warm hug, as well as more formal experiences that come with little or no money changing hands. Free advice: If anyone wants cash for a kiss, don't do it! Just give them money, if you can, because they must really need it.


1. Honor KC: Celebrating 10 years of One of the World’s Great Museums

The World War I Museum is now a decade old and celebrating the occasion by offering free admission to learn about the War to End All Wars. Tragically – perhaps inevitably – the Great War in Europe from 1914 to 1918 wasn’t the last terrible conflict to engulf nations and the lives of millions of soldiers and their families. Daily anniversary attractions include 2 p.m. guided tours of the museum’s main gallery, self-guided tours of the museum’s top 10 exhibitions and family oriented hands-on-history sessions with WWI artifacts. Go to the top of the Liberty Memorial Tower from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday and Saturday, see an award-winning animated film at 1 p.m. Saturday about the unexpected Christmas Day cease-fire on the Western Front and all day Sunday listen to living-history volunteers tell how soldiers put in harm’s way spent their Christmas.

Thursday through Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m. today through Sunday, National World War 1 Museum and Memorial, 2 Memorial Drive, Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free.


2. The Great Latke Hamantash Debate

Which is superior, the pancake-ish potato latke or the cookie-ish hamantash? The case for each traditionally Jewish holiday treat will be made with commendably comic overtones at this annual contest between two three-member teams of talented debaters. In memory of Dr. Ruth Fredman Cernea and sponsored by Congregation Ohev Sholom, this food-for-the-mind event will not only employ considerable wordplay, but also clever examples of technology and over-the-top props. In the end – or at least until next December – the outcome will be judged by a panel of three rabbis, who are no slouches themselves in the live entertainment department. Whichever side wins, know this: You don’t have to decide anything, only laugh it up and simultaneously sample delicious examples of latke and hamantash. Yes, that’s why you have two hands.  

Sunday, 11:30 a.m.; White Theatre, Jewish Community Center of Greater Kansas City, Overland Park, Kan.; admission: $5 for ages 13 and older (attendees are encouraged to bring canned goods for food pantry donation).


3. Whoville Holidays

The Grinch was a dedicated meanie who finally discovered the true meaning of Christmas. Families can experience the story twice on Friday night, when both the classic 1966 TV cartoon and the live-action 2000 movie versions of Dr. Suess’s “How the Grinch Stole Christmas” are screened in the City Market’s “lightly heated” north pavilion. Then on Saturday and Sunday, the hopefully reformed Grinch and sweet little Cindy Lou Who will hang with fans looking for a special holiday photo opp. Take it to the next level by coming costumed as your favorite Whoville character, if only so people will perfectly understand where you’re coming from when you refuse to stop exclaiming, “Who-ray!” Costumes are great that way.

Friday, 7-9:30 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m-1:30 p.m.; City Market, 20 E. Fifth St., Kansas City, Mo.; admission: free (Donations of three canned goods for Harvesters and a new toy for Salvation Army are suggested).


4. The Fairy Princess

She’s been around since 1935, yet has remained forever young. Indeed, the years have been incredibly kind to the Fairy Princess, who first delighted children with her friendly countenance and gift-giving magic wand at Kline’s Department Store in downtown Kansas City. The lovely holiday legend continues at the Kansas City Museum, where little ones can share a holiday wish with the Fairy Princes on her throne, participate in hands-on activities and leave with something for the sweet tooth. Just be sure to brush after you get home, kids. The Fairy Princess’s distant cousin, the Tooth Fairy, doesn’t need any extra business.

Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Kansas City Museum, 3218 Gladstone Blvd., Kansas City, Mo.; admission: $10 per child.


5. Christmas in the Park

If it’s Christmastime, it’s time for Christmas in the Park. Get the kiddos in the car and drive by more than 175 delightfully animated displays powered by more than 300,000 playfully arranged lights. Think of it as family time that doesn’t involve any screen-watching. Yeah, I know, radical. If youngsters can’t stay off their phones during the fantasy laden trip, then maybe their distracting devices could be spontaneously donated to one of the outdoor light displays. It’s amazing how fast Mom and Dad’s hands can reach into the backseat!  

Thursday and Sunday, 5:30-10:30 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 5:30-11 p.m.; Longview Lake Park, Frank White Jr. Softball Complex, 3910 S.W. Longview Road, Lee’s Summit, Mo.; admission: free (donations accepted for 39 area charities).


6. Classic Album Sundays KC

Re-appreciate the Eagles’ landmark 1976 album, “Hotel California,” at the final Classic Album Sunday get-together of 2016. Hear the disc that sold 32 million copies – goodness knows how many were sold on 8-Track back in the day – played on a super-fine hi-fi set up, as well as the history behind the making of the album. Someone who will definitely not be there: The Eagles-hating “Dude” from “The Big Lebowski.” Hey, everyone can’t be a fan.  

Sunday, 1-4 p.m.; Waldo Pizza, 7433 Broadway, Kansas City, Mo.; tickets: $5 advance, $8 at door.


Brian McTavish is a freelance contributor for KCUR 89.3

Brian McTavish follows popular culture in the belief that the search for significance can lead anywhere. Brian explains, "I've written articles and reviews ... reviewed hundreds of concerts, films and plays. And the thing is, these high arts all sprang from the pop culture of their day. Don't forget: Shakespeare was once Spielberg."
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