This is what downtowns are for: big, loud, crowded and joyous celebrations.
Kansas City will paint the town blue Tuesday to celebrate the Royals’ victory over the New York Mets in the 2015 World Series.
“This has been 30 years in the making,” said Jackson County Executive Mike Sanders, adding that this is the stuff from which memories are made. Sanders said fireworks were going off in his neighborhood until 4:30 a.m. Monday.
“I don’t know how we could be any happier,” said Mayor Sly James. “I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If you can’t love Kansas City today, you never will.
“New York is New York. It’s a city that never sleeps. Kansas City is Kansas City. It’s a city that never quits.”
Even the weather is a fan. The forecast is for a Royal blue sky with a temperature in the 70s.
The party will be a first for anyone born in 1986 or later. Downtown has changed a lot since then. It’s denser , and officials are girding for as many as 200,000 people coming to the parade and rally that begin at noon at the Sprint Center and culminate at Union Station.
“Our main message to the public is to carpool and arrive early,” said Kathy Nelson, the president of the Kansas City Sports Commission & Foundation. “There is limited parking downtown and you will need to be prepared and, most importantly, be patient. This will be a family friendly event. Fans are reminded that public consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited and we encourage everyone to travel light and not bring bags or backpacks.”
James also sounded a cautionary note at a Monday news conference.
“As euphoric as we are, as happy as we are, as celebratory as we want to be today and tomorrow, the entire world will be watching our city,” James said. “And we want to show them that our team and our city are classy, that we know how to conduct ourselves. Nobody has to get hurt. Nobody has to be pushed aside.”
The 2.3-mile parade will loop through downtown, heading north to Ninth Street, east to Oak Street and south to Truman Road before rejoining Grand Boulevard down to Union Station. The rally, with Royals players and coaches, will start about 2 p.m.
Streets along the route will close starting as early as 8 a.m.
John Delzell and Sheila Miller thought about hitting Dick’s Sporting Goods on Sunday but waited until Monday morning. They arrived too early and had to come back after the Lee’s Summit store opened at 7:30.
“We’re buying stuff for our whole family so we can dress up for the parade,” Miller said.
Not everyone was willing to wear their Royals gear.
Payton Hatcher of Kansas City picked up a pennant, shirt and towel at Dick’s in Lee’s Summit but didn’t need a World Series hat. He was wearing a Royals postseason hat instead.
“I have the World Series one, but I wanted to keep that one safe and sound and just wear the postseason one,” Hatcher said.
The parade and rally could be a downtown gathering to rival or exceed the opening of Union Station in 1914 or the dedication of the Liberty Memorial site in 1921 or the memorial itself in 1926.
The arrival Monday of Kansas City’s first new streetcar — something the city has not seen since the 1950s — was almost eclipsed by the World Series. David Park, a former city official, attended the streetcar event but admitted he really came downtown to make a plan for Tuesday’s celebration.
Will anybody get any work done? The Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kan.,will close from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Kansas City’s Municipal Court canceled dockets for Tuesday.
J.E. Dunn Construction is encouraging its employees to join the celebration.
“We have invited all employees and their families to come down to headquarters and have free lunch in our Dunn Cafe,” said Emily Fors, the company’s vice president for communications. “Then we will all walk to the parade route where it comes by close to our offices around Ninth and Oak. We are also sponsoring the parade, using employees to steer one of the large balloons, and we will have a huge banner for employees to hold along the parade route.”
UMB Bank said it was planning for “business as usual, but with a celebratory atmosphere,” said Kelli Christman, vice president for corporate and marketing communication.
H&R Block Inc. said its employees who wanted to could reschedule their midday meetings and take time off from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to attend the parade and rally. Similarly, Hallmark Cards Inc., headquartered near Union Station, said employees could join the festivities — with their supervisors’ approval.
Kansas City Southern, while stressing its railroads would operate as usual, said it expected its downtown employees would dress in Royals gear and enjoy company-provided cookies before the parade.
On the confetti issue: Folks who were around for the 1985 parade recall there was so much of the stuff it buried the players, clogged the streets and collected beneath some of the parade vehicles, leading to a few minor fires. Outfielder Willie Wilson and his family had to evacuate their car.
There will be 16 cannons shooting confetti along the parade route Tuesday, but planners are confident it will not be a problem.
“When you look at photos from 1985, you see mounds and mounds of paper product, but that is not the situation we face in 2015,” city spokesman Chris Hernandez said, noting that offices don’t generate as much paper as they did 30 years ago.
Photos from 1985 show parade vehicles navigating narrow paths between spectators standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the streets.
That won’t happen either.
“People will not be touching the cars and the players. They will be on the curb behind barricades,” Hernandez said.
Hernandez added that the players will ride in Chevrolet trucks.
Several school districts, including the Blue Valley and Shawnee Mission districts, will give students the day off. Kansas City Public Schools held out but decided late Monday afternoon to close Tuesday.
“We will have children with us tomorrow who have never seen this,” James said of the parade.
It has been almost two generations since Kansas City’s last World Series championship.
“For those of us that are old enough to remember 1985, you think back to everything about that time in Kansas City,” Sanders said. “What you were doing, who you were with. Those are lifetime memories. That’s really what this event is going to be for this entire community.
“We have a team in the Kansas City Royals that in so many ways has captured the character of what it means to be from Kansas City and the greater Kansas City area.”
The Star’s Greg Hack, Mará Rose Williams, Brian Burnes, Mark Davis and Lynn Horsley contributed to this report.
▪ The parade starts at noon and the rally about 2 p.m.
▪ Go to VisitKC.com for details.
▪ If you can’t make it downtown or don’t like crowds, the events will be televised.
▪ Free express buses will run from Kemper Arena, the Country Club Plaza, Metro North Shopping Center, 47th & State Avenue, Red Bridge and Grandview roads, Swope Park and the Strang Line Park & Ride. For details, go to RideKC.org/news/parade
▪ Regular bus service will be free on all routes that connect to downtown, including the Metro, IndeBus, Unified Government Transit and Johnson County Transit. This service will run from 9 a.m. until two hours after the celebration ends.
▪ The lawn of the National World War I Museum & Memorial will offer parking for $15. Access is via Wyandotte Street.
▪ Crown Center will have special event parking for $10 east of 27th Street and Grand Boulevard.
▪ A number of area schools including the Kansas City, Shawnee Mission, Blue Valley, Independence, Fort Osage, Raytown, Park Hill, Tonganoxie and Olathe districts, will close to allow students and teachers to attend the parade.
▪ Some charter schools and private schools, including Academie Lafayette, St. Thomas Moore, Visitation, Our Lady of the Presentation, St. Peter’s, St. James Liberty, Notre Dame de Sion and Rockhurst high schools also will be closed.
▪ Districts that are open said teachers are expected to be in school unless it is an emergency because the pool of substitutes has run dry.
▪ Metropolitan Community College has canceled classes on all its campuses.
▪ Missouri Southern State University will hold classes but its 20-member drum line will entertain along the parade route.