Christmas In the Park: A Fort Scott Family Tradition

Students working on decorations for the Christmas In Gunn Park event. Submitted by FSHS Building Trades Teacher Michael Casner.

A local group of people who love the community gathered in Gunn Park in April 2021 and together envisioned a Christmas event that they hope will grow each year.

The event has new leadership this year with many family activities.

Gunn Park is the largest public park in Fort Scott and is located on the west side of the city, off of Park Avenue.

This year Christmas in Gunn Park is Saturday, Dec. 11, and Saturday, Dec. 18 from 5-8 p.m.

A living nativity, Santa Claus, a toy drive for local children,  a chili feed, hot cocoa and coffee, kids crafts, a hayrack ride, trolley rides, music from local Fort Scott High School students, and some local vendors for shopping will provide a little something for everyone.

The event is free, Guns said.

“Goodwill donations are always welcome and will go towards expanding Christmas in Gunn Park next year,” she said. “We will be collecting new unwrapped toys for our “Fill the Truck Toy Drive” with donations going to Bourbon County Angels, Angel Gifts to fulfill Christmas wishes for kids in Bourbon County.”

“Everyone on the planning committee has a variety of reasons why they chose to join,” Melissa Guns, one of the organizers, said. “We want good things for Fort Scottians. We want to spread Christmas cheer and enrich the place we call home… Most of all, we want a place for both those who love Christmas …while offering a place for those who may struggle around the holiday season, a place to find a little peace and joy.”


Gunn Park will be closed for regular traffic during the event. Vehicles with handicap parking tags or window hangers will be allowed to drive into the park near the event.

Public parking is available on Burke Street in the Fort Scott Community College Nursing Building parking lot, north of the tall Fort Scott water tower, and also in the Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas parking lot at Ninth and Horton Street.

Busses to and from the event will bring guests in and out of the park from the parking lots.

Those who have helped:

The planning committee consists of Craig Campbell, Doug Guns, Melissa Guns, Bailey Lyons, Shannon Johnson, Josh Jones, Tom Robertson, and Devin Tally.

Shelter houses are being decorated by Niece of Kansas, Inc. (Shelter 1), Kiwanis (Shelter 2), Shannon Johnson/Clark Street Lights (Shelter 3), Shaunn Pytlowany (Shelter 5), and Bourbon County Cars (Shelter 4).

Allison Leach, Danyell Miles, and Susan Carrillo are decorating a grand entrance to the park.

Fort Scott Community College Welding Program and Fort Scott High School Carpentry, Welding, and Art Programs have each created festive displays.

“Mike Miles’ display is sure to please, and Robert Coon, with A1 Towing, is also providing us with a display anyone who grew up in the ’80s is sure to get a kick out of,” Guns said.

Buck Run Community Center is providing activities for kids.

USD 234 and FSCC volunteers are helping with shuttling people to and from the park, and the Fort Scott Chamber of Commerce is providing the town trolley for moving people through the park on event nights.

Matt Harvey with Fort Scott Auto is running a hayride with his trailer.

Additionally, USD 234 is allowing the Fort Scott Police and Fire Departments to use their kitchen to cook up over 200 pounds of high-quality ground beef purchased by the committee at a special rate made possible by The Butcher Block.

Ward Kraft Inc. has donated the rest of the chili ingredients for a meal that is sure to give us all some extra warmth, she said.

Dollar General has donated bowls and spoons.

Ward Kraft Inc. is also helping folks to stay warm with coffee and Kathy Reed has donated hot chocolate.

Angel Gifts will be the recipient of the “Fill the Truck Toy Drive” and they have volunteered to help along with FSCC Cheer Team.

Skitch Allen is donating additional port-a-potties for the events.

“Finally, the guys from Fort Scott’s Parks Department are in full swing to help us get the grounds ready and the electrical properly connected,” she said. “Jeff Allen also helped consult on the electrical.”

“These groups, along with the City of Fort Scott and a grant from the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation have helped to make this year’s Christmas in Gunn Park possible,” she said.

Melissa Guns, center, representing the Christmas in the Park organization, received the grant from the Fort Scott Area Community Foundation on November 12, 2021. At left is FSACF presenter Gregg Motley, and Carla Farmer, right.

The vendors for Dec. 11 are Blessed B Creations and Hope Designs by Neen. On Dec. 18, Sparkle R Jewelry, Paparazzi Jewelry will be a vendor.

Vendor registration for December 18 is open through December 16. Interested vendors can sign up at

Schedule for Dec. 11

5 – 8:30 p.m: Angel Gifts Toy Drive, chili feed, hot cocoa and coffee, a vendor shop, kids crafts, hayrack ride, trolley rides, a live Nativity scene by Bethel Community Church, vendors selling items.

The chili feed will be provided until all the chili is gone.

All other events run throughout the evening.

5:30-6 p.m.           Music by the Fort Scott High School  Orchestra
6- 6:15 pm           Santa and a special guest arrive, tree lighting,  and sponsor acknowledgments.
6:30 – 8:30 pm    Pictures with Santa
6:15-6:45 pm       Music by FSHS Jazz Band
7- 7:30 pm             Music by FSHS Choir Ensemble
7:45 – 8:15 pm     Combined music performance by FSHS Jazz Band and Choir
8:30- 8:45pm       Event activities wrap-up

8:45 – 9 pm            Final hayrack and trolley rides to busses
9 pm                         All bus runs to parking completed and park gates lock for the night.

Schedule for Dec. 18

5 – 8:30 pm          Angel Gifts Toy Drive, hot cocoa and coffee, vendor shop, kids crafts, hayrack and trolley rides, and live Nativity scene by Bethel Community Church, vendors selling items.

5 pm – Until?      Food Vendors – Butcher Block & Tres Polito Food Truck
5:30 – 8:30 pm Christmas music performance by Bourbon County Revival
6- 6:15 pm          Santa and special guest arrive, tree lighting, sponsor acknowledgments.
6:30- 8:30 pm    Pictures with Santa
8:30- 8:45 pm    Event activities close
8:45 – 9 pm          Final hayrack and trolley rides to busses
9 pm                      All bus runs to parking completed and park gates lock for the night.








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