The Soul of Santa lights up 18th and Vine in Kansas City

Published: Dec. 2, 2022 at 11:22 PM CST
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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (KCTV) — One of the city’s newer tree lightings lit up the Historic 18th and Vine Jazz District Friday night.

Tucker Lott doesn’t sport a Santa hat or beard. He comes to the celebration sporting a red fedora and white silk scarf tucked into his dress coat. That’s on purpose, he said.

“It’s about the inward person, not the outward person,” Lott explained. “I don’t want to be the traditional Santa. I’m Black. I’m not gonna be a traditional Black Santa. I’m the Soul of Santa.”

He said we all have the soul of Santa inside us, the spirit of giving. That’s a mission and a message he wants to spread.

“Look inside yourself and find yourself so we can be the same, and we can all share Christmas in color,” Lott said.

He came up with idea of the 18th and Vine tree lighting four years ago, to create a new tradition.

“From here to downtown is not very far, but some people don’t make that trip. I know how that goes, so we’re gonna bring it to them. So they can celebrate in their own communities,” Lott described. “When you service these communities, you bring other communities together. So we want everybody from everywhere else coming down here just like they go anywhere else to see a Christmas tree lighting ceremony.”

The emcee each year is Joseph Macklin, known in the music world as Jo Blaq. The KCK native is a three-time Grammy nominated music producer who has worked with names like Ariana Grande and Kendrick Lamar.

“I think that’s the most important thing [is] the more we give back, the more we get from our hearts, I think we’ll see the world change in people and things around us,” Macklin said of Lott’s mission.

This year, the switch was flipped by rapper Tech N9ne. It’s not the first time he’s made things get lit. He flipped the switch at the much bigger, older Mayor’s Christmas Tree lighting at Crown Center several years ago.

“I’ve done the Mayor’s Christmas Tree. Never done this. And this is my hood where I grew up. I went to church right up the street. So this is a big thing for me,” he remarked.

Negro Leagues Baseball Museum president Bob Kendrick flipped the switch at the 93rd annual Plaza Lights this year, then came to the Soul of Santa tree lighting, an event considers just as meaningful as he considers the area the most historically significant part of town.

“And hopefully we will just continue to build it and grow it to the point that it does indeed become widespread, accepted here in the community and you’ll see thousands of people coming out for this ceremony,” Kendrick said. “But you have to start somewhere.”

There’s also a charitable component. The Soul of Santa Do Good Foundation’s primary mission is to support high-functioning adults with disabilities. Lott’s daughter had epilepsy before dying this year from a blood clot. They have a secondary mission of bringing the arts and culture to underserved kids.

Saturday at 9am, they’ll have a community breakfast and toy giveaway.