NewsLocal News


Kearns 'Christmas on 54th' brings holiday cheer to community

Posted at 9:39 PM, Nov 26, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-26 23:39:12-05

Kearns Metro Township kicked off a new holiday event half a decade in the making, bringing the community together to celebrate in a way they haven't been able to in years.

On one of the busiest roads in Kearns, in an area where cars usually rush by without a thought, families began to gather during a chilly Friday evening.

Some toted little ones in wagons, while others carried blankets to keep the kiddos warm.

The park strip on 5400 South near the UFA fire station is usually an empty space filled with grass and a sidewalk that weaves through it.

"This actually used to be houses right here," said Paul Fuaalii, who grew up in Kearns. "So, when they built this patch of land, it was like, kind of, 'What are we going to do with this?'"

What the township decided to do is carry out the years-long dream of Roger Snow, co-chair of the Kearns Community Council.

His vision of how to use the park fell perfectly into place Friday night.

"It started about five years ago, maybe even six," Snow remembered. "We wanted to get, first of all, a Christmas tree for Kearns."

Kearns Metro Township Mayor Kelly Bush explained how decades ago, Kearns had a real pine tree that the town would decorate for the holidays. But that tree was cut down and replaced by businesses, she said.

She and Snow talked about how three years ago, they put up a 40-foot-tall artificial tree.

At first, it was just the tree and some decorations.

But Snow's dream was bigger than a 40-foot tree.

"He had been talking about that he wanted to just have an area where families, where we, could do Christmas and have lighting, of trees, and decorations, and have Santa Claus," Bush said.

This year, the Community Council created an event complete with free cocoa, a station to write letters to Santa, and a visit with Santa himself.

They called the event and display "Christmas on 54th."

At dusk, dozens of families lined 5400 South and looked toward the west, into the distance.

Soon, they could hear sirens and see flashing blue and red lights.

"Oh look, the police! The police!" kids yelled in excitement.

As the parade of police cars and fire trucks drew nearer, children could make out Santa sitting in the front seat of a vintage fire truck. The old alarm bell on the truck occasionally rang as Santa waved and kids cheered.

He hopped out of the truck at the park's corner and walked up to a group of kids. One little boy gave Santa a hug and danced with joy.

The crowd counted down, to the moment all the lights throughout the holiday display switched on all at once.

Santa then made his way to a small tent, to visit with each good girl and boy and hear their Christmas wish list.

A choir from South Kearns Elementary lined up in front of the tree and sang holiday tunes like "Jingle Bells."

Families walked around the park, taking in the light displays.

Kids and parents had a sparkle in their eyes, feeling the holiday magic.

Paul Fuaalii and his wife brought their five children to the event. He expressed how much they love to see their community thriving.

"I have actually grown up right in this area my whole life, and so just seeing the progress around here for the community is really great, to bring them all together," he said.

For Snow, it was a chance to watch a vision he thought up years ago, finally come to life.

"We absolutely love it. This is Kearns. This is what Kearns is," Snow said. "This is all of our families, all of our citizens. They're great, great people. We just love them to death, and we want to give back to them."

The Christmas on 54th tree and light display turns on every night through the holiday season at 5:30 p.m. and stays lit until 11 p.m. It is located on 5400 South near 4420 West, across the street from Unified Fire Authority Station 109.