MCC welding students help light up the holidays at Powell Gardens

The work of Metropolitan Community College welding students shines brightly. (Photos courtesy of Powell Gardens, Kansas City’s Botanical Garden)

They are among the newest welders in Kansas City, but their work will be seen by thousands of people.

Students in the Metropolitan Community College Welding Department were asked to help make Powell Gardens’ Festival of Lights even more special this year. The festival, which runs through Jan. 6, features botanically-themed lighting displays along a mile-long path that meanders through six gardens.

MCC welding students made metal “trees” for the Powell Garden light displays.

Welding instructor Aaron Gibbs says the students created three lotus flower displays this year.  The students also created three Christmas tree frames that are decorated with lights. The frames range in height from 4 feet to 12 feet tall.

Gibbs says the students were fired up about the project.

“This is stuff everyone in Kansas City is going to see,” he says. “The students took pride in it.”

Gibbs says the project involved simple techniques that matched the students’ skill sets. The projects were incorporated into the welding curriculum this semester to coincide with the skills they were being taught.

Frames for illuminated lotus flowers are part of the work done by MCC welding students.

Gibbs says while the students are still learning their trade, it’s a chance to show what they can do.

“It’s basic stuff, but they still got their work out there.”

Gibbs says Powell Gardens reached out to highlight the community’s talent.

Powell Gardens CEO and President Tabitha Schmidt is grateful for the students sharing their time and talent. “The structures created by the students stretch from the front entrance to the Island Garden and are a favorite among our guests,” she said. “This partnership is a major component of the success of the Festival of Lights.”

Not everything on Powell Gardens’ wish list was finished.  Gibbs says coursework comes first and the remaining projects will be added as time allows.

MCC welding students helped create some of the displays for last year’s Festival of Lights, too.

You can see the displays Thursday through Sunday, 4-10 p.m. There are free children’s activities each day from 4-6 p.m.  You can have a picture taken with Santa Claus Dec. 15 from 5-9 p.m. Tickets are $12 for adults; $5 for children 5-12. There are also special Festival of Lights admission packages available. Powell Gardens is on U.S. 50 in Kingsville, Mo., east of Lee’s Summit.