Ways You Can Still Celebrate the Fourth of July Around Kansas City

It hasn’t been an easy year for anyone, which perhaps makes this Fourth of July that much more important. While cancellations are knocking out many of our traditional activities, there are still ways to celebrate. Here are some ideas on how to commemorate the holiday in Kansas City.

Get Some Goodies
Check out the U.S.A collection at CharlieHustle.com (based out of KC) or swing by a cute boutique like ShananiGanns in Shawnee. They have everything from sequined KC flag hats to Party in the U.S.A shirts to koozies with a firecracker graphic that reads “Just Here to Bang.”

Get Some Action
Worlds of Fun will be open for a full day of activities, and according to their website, their “Celebrate America Fireworks show sets the night sky ablaze in one of Kansas City’s most impressive displays of patriotic fanfare.” Be sure to check their website before you go so you’re prepared for the new safety guidelines, including scheduling your visit, temperature checks, and wearing masks.

While the Kansas City Zoo won’t have any of its usual festive activities for the Fourth of July, it will be open from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. that day. You will still need to reserve a timed entry online at kansascityzoo.org.

Get Decorating…or Touring                                                                                    Lenexa is replacing their traditional hometown parade in Old Town with a new twist. Register in advance to decorate the exterior of your home or business to fit the theme “There’s No Place Like Home” — or with suitable patriotic flair. Their panel of judges will select winners in a dozen award categories. The community will be invited to take a self-guided tour of the porch parade (with the help of an online map) during a four-day period to enjoy the decorations and creativity.

My friend Lindsay and I after running the Lenexa Freedom Run on July 4, 2018.

Get Runnin’
A few years ago, I started a tradition of doing the 5K at the Lenexa Freedom Run every Fourth of July morning. Like many other things, this year it’s gone VIRTUAL. You can run or walk from any location. You get to run your own race, at your own pace, and time it yourself. The race fee is $20, and a patriotic T-shirt is included with registration.

Get Illuminated
Olathe is still planning to have its fireworks show at the College Boulevard Activity Center. Parking lot opens at 8:30 p.m. with the show beginning at approximately 9:45 p.m. on July 4.

Gardner is still planning a “fantastic fireworks display to celebrate America’s freedom” on July 4 at 10 p.m. It will be at Celebration Park, 32501 W. 159th St.

In Stilwell, fireworks will launch around 9:30 p.m. from the KCP&L Service Center located at 19950 Newton Street (69 Highway and 199th Street). Depending on weather conditions, the firework display may launch as early as 9 p.m. but not later than 10 p.m. on July 4. Stilwell will also have a community parade that evening at 6 p.m.

In Oak Grove, the fireworks display will start at approximately 10 p.m. on July 4 from the highest point of Bent Oak Park. The park will be closed, so you’re encouraged to watch from home or somewhere around town (while maintaining social distance).

You can head to Smithville on July 4 and go to the lake for a fireworks show at dark. Festivities are at the north end of the Smithville Dam. View at the marina, by boat, or at Smith’s Fork Park.

Get Online
There are several American Museums and historic sites that offer virtual tours. The Statue of Liberty interactive virtual tour is a combination of high-resolution spherical images, historical information, and historic images taken in the same areas decades ago. Make sure you check out the view from “Inside the Face”–you can see the lips and nose from the inside!

Get Lit                                                                                                                     Make sure you know the latest guidelines in your area regarding fireworks if you plan on lighting up. For example, in Lee’s Summit, there are changes to when fireworks will be allowed within city limits this year. Fireworks will only be allowed from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. on July 3, from 10 a.m.-midnight on July 4, and from 10 a.m.-11 p.m. on July 5. The city also says each resident must have a 2020 fireworks permit (one per household) and permits can be obtained at approved consumer firework tents, City Hall, or online at cityofls.net. In Lee’s Summit, bottle rockets, Roman candles, sky lanterns, parachutes with nighttime effects and missiles with fins or rudders are prohibited.

No matter how you celebrate, be careful. According to PewResearch.org, on average, more than 45,000 people visit U.S. hospital emergency rooms for treatment of injuries on July 4 and 5 – nearly 91,000 in total, by far the highest daily numbers in the entire year. The 40-year-old scar on my sister’s chin is proof of how dangerous they can be…and also explains why, as a grown woman, I stick with Champagne Party Poppers.

Happy Fourth of July, Kansas City!

Jennifer Johnson
I was born and raised in KCK before living in Lawrence and Chicago for several years. I've since settled in to Overland Park with my husband, two daughters (about to enter the middle school years!), and cat. I wake up at 4 a.m. to host the morning show on KC 102.1, so I drink coffee, lots of coffee. Random facts about me: I was an extra in the movie Derailed (with Jennifer Aniston), I lived in Alaska for a summer, I was a traffic reporter for NBC in Chicago, and I tore my ACL playing basketball in college.