After marching in locations around downtown for decades, the American Royal Parade will have a new route this fall — outside Kauffman Stadium.
The route is tentative, according to the American Royal, but the current plan has the parade making a half circle around the home of the Royals.
Still, this year’s parade on Oct. 3 will retain the same charm and tradition it has had for 90 years, said Jennifer Kraenzle, parade and special events coordinator for the American Royal.
Although the route may seem unusual — Kraenzle acknowledges she has heard of no other parades outside baseball stadiums — she and others said the change has some advantages.
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For one, Kraenzle said, this is the first time the parade has been paired with the American Royal’s World Series of Barbecue, which also will be moving to the Truman Sports Complex.
“We wanted to do something to inject some new energy and attract more Kansas City families to this great event,” Kraenzle said.
She said people will be able to watch the parade from the parking lot by the stadium, the streets around Kauffman and the plaza in front of the ballpark.
The parade tentatively will move east to west on Royal Way in front of Kauffman, head past the parking lots by the stadium and then continue on Dubiner Circle.
The event’s organizers also are using the Saturday morning parade as a lead-in to a daylong Cowtown Family Fun Fest. The latest addition to the four-day barbecue event is tentatively planned to include appearances by former Chiefs and Royals players, a petting zoo, pony rides and bounce houses, among other attractions.
While the family fun fest and barbecue contest require an entrance fee, parking and watching the parade is free of charge.
Some parade participants are looking forward to the route change.
“We’re excited,” said Kendrick Miller, scout executive for the Boy Scouts of America Heart of America Council. “We know this event will continue to grow.”
In last year’s parade, the Boy Scouts made up about 1,000 of the parade’s participants.
Miller said what the parade may lose in casual spectators who happen to be downtown could be made up for by the families who attend both the parade and the Cowtown event.
Tricia Geris, senior director of associate services for Cerner Corporation, said she’s hopeful the parade’s new location and rebranding as an all-day family event will encourage more people to attend.
“I think we will see the growth because of the experience the American Royal is trying to create,” Geris said.
She said the company has participated in the parade for the last 15 years. Each year, Cerner has about 100 people hand out miniature American flags to crowds on the parade route and sponsors parade floats and associates on horseback. At the parade, Cerner also celebrates military veterans who have ties to the company.
“It’s been a really strong tradition,” Geris said.
She said the move from downtown to the Truman Sports Complex should help the parade attendance grow not just this year but for years to come.
“I think that the people’s familiarity with the sports complex area, and easier parking, will be a positive driver,” Geris said.
Kraenzle said the change in venue could help attract a new audience to the parade, especially those families who in past years didn’t attend the event because it was held downtown.
“We know convenience is a big factor when it comes to family time,” Kraenzle said. “We really feel like we’ll add some value.”