The Kansas City Fairy Princess
Experience the magic and joy of this Kansas City tradition.
Princess Kiara with Aliah Bilberry
The Kansas City Fairy Princess was a holiday marketing idea that began in 1935 at Kline’s Department Store on Main Street. A white-gowned princess welcomed young shoppers from a throne in Kline’s holiday toy land. As she waved her wand, children were surprised with a gift. This tradition continued at Kline’s until the late 1960s (with the store eventually closing for business in 1970). In 1987, the Kansas City Museum at Corinthian Hall revived the Fairy Princess tradition and has continued it every year since.
Carol Barta was one of the children who visited Kline’s Fairy Princess in the 1930s. Then, in 1956, Barta was selected to wear the tiara and iconic white ball gown as one of Kansas City’s Fairy Princesses.
“I loved the experience,” recalls Barta, who is now 82 and lays claim to being the world’s oldest fairy princess. “The children were so enraptured. I adored them and loved the fact that they adored me.”
Current Fairy Princess Anna Worley has enchanted children in her tiara and white ball gown for the past three years. As a child, Worley also fell under the Princess’s spell.
“I visited the Fairy Princess when I was young, and now I get to carry on the tradition,” she says. “When I was little, I walked into the room and saw this beautiful princess on the throne. She was so kind and welcoming, and this was impactful for me.”
Barta and Worley not only share fun, joyful memories of both visiting and being the Fairy Princess but also agree that this experience touches children’s lives.
“This longstanding tradition brings something very unique to Kansas City,” Worley says. It restores hope and magic, and I’m all for anything I can do to bring wholesome love into children’s lives.”
Barta agrees. “Children need to have a little magic in their lives, and it’s a beautiful vision to see these children experience magic,” she says “And guess what? When children experience the magic, so do their parents.”
*Corinthian Hall is currently under construction, so the Kansas City Museum at the Historical Garment District is presenting this season’s Fairy Princess at 800 Broadway Blvd., Kansas City, MO.