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KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — Comedian Heidi Gardner is flipping the switch on an annual holiday lighting ceremony at the upscale Country Club Plaza shopping and dining district in Kansas City.

The "Saturday Night Live" cast member says getting the starring role at the Thanksgiving night event once seemed "crazy" and "out of reach." The Kansas City native was working on the Plaza in 1998 when actor Paul Rudd did the honors, lighting up several blocks of buildings. And she told The Kansas City Star that she has long had a picture of the Plaza lights on her refrigerator.

The ceremony dates back to the 1930s. The only time that the Plaza lights were not in operation occurred in 1973, when President Richard Nixon called upon all Americans to curtail the use of Christmas lights to reduce dependence on foreign oil imports.

 

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