Each year on the Fourth of July, thousands from the KC area hit the road to the Lake of the Ozarks, Table Rock Lake or some other significant body of water in which to keep cool during their celebration.
One lucky group from the area, however, has to go no farther than the own backyard for a patriotic display (while all fireworks displays at these lakes are private, see our list of public displays below).
Here’s what makes the Fourth so special for these water-lovers:
Marta Kimball’s favorite part of July 4 is the homemade ice cream. And of course, the fireworks.
“We usually have at least 90 people or so show up and everyone brings different flavors and we have all of these toppings,” said Kimball, whose family moved to Weatherby Lake when she was in high school. Today, the 62-year-old recognizes how special her lake home is.
“When we were kids, dad would load us all up on the pontoon and we would motor over toward the dam for the fireworks and it was always so much fun,” Kimball said.
Today, the home Marta and her husband, Jay, own is much closer to the dam, making their backyard and dock a prime viewing area for fireworks.
Long before the fireworks, however, Weatherby Lake’s 800 residents compete in canoe and kayak races on the lake, softball and volleyball tournaments, and children’s games that include three-legged races, sack races and water balloon fights.
Tanya Finn, who serves on the Board of Alderman and has lived at the lake for 44 years, raised two boys who participated in all of these activities and more.
“When you live in a lake community like ours, there’s just no need to go anywhere else in the summer,” she said.
July Fourth is a five-day celebration at Lake Waukomis — one that requires planning by dozens of volunteers from the Platte County community to start well before Christmas each year.
From house decorating contests to fishing derbies to sponge dodgeball, the community of approximately 900 residents celebrates with gusto.
According to committee member Louisa Libby, there’s “oodles and gobs” to do for everyone at Lake Waukomis.
For the month before July 4, Libby and other volunteers operate a “4th of July store” that sells Lake Waukomis branded items with a summertime, Independence Day flair. Proceeds pay for the fireworks and other activities.
While they’ve been celebrating like this for more than 50 years, this year, Lake Waukomis residents hope to make the Guinness Book of World Records for the longest line of water inflatables. The Lake Waukomis organizers anticipate more than doubling the old record of 543 feet.
“It’s a little piece of seclusion and paradise right here in the middle of a big city,” she said.
Maddie Oppenheim is 10 years old and lives in Seattle, but when she grows up, she’s going to move to Lake Quivira, which falls in Johnson and Wyandotte counties. At least that’s what she tells her grandmother, Mary Linda Boling, who has lived at Lake Quivira for more than 20 years.
“Our granddaughters come every year for the Fourth of July and the whole family has such a great time,” said Boling, who also serves on the Lake Quivira Board of Directors.
Starting with an early morning golf cart and bicycle parade, and continuing onto games like one that requires fathers to carry all of their children at the same time while running on the sandy beach, the Lake Quivira Fourth of July celebration is all about family and community fun.
Some say the city of approximately 1,000 residents triples in size this one day of the year and nearly everyone participates in extreme sports competitions such as sack races and best belly flop from a dock. When it gets just a little too crazy, the Lake Quivira Fire Department is called to hose everyone down.
When Connie and Doug Cotter of Wichita go on vacation, one of their favorite places is Lake Lotawana, and their favorite week is that surrounding the July Fourth holiday.
“We have two special family birthdays the same week, so it’s really quite the celebration for us,” said Connie Cotter, who has a son in Wichita, a daughter in Denver, and another son, David Cotter, at Prairie Village.
The Cotters are among several homeowners at Lake Lotawana who call the Jackson County community their vacation home. The city of approximately 1,900 residents is celebrating 60 years since its incorporation. The Cotters plan to retire to here in a few years.
“We all just love it there,” said Connie Cotter. “It’s so quiet and peaceful, you just automatically become more calm when you get there.”
That peacefulness includes July 4, often considered a noisy day in many communities. Individual fireworks are prohibited and most residents celebrate with backyard parties and time on sailboats. As the sun sets, those boats and all eyes move to the dam where a professional display is the perfecting ending to a perfect day in what many people call the perfect lake community.
Fireworks open to the public
All events unless noted take place on the Fourth.
▪ Overland Park: The Elders, a local Irish rock band, will play 8 p.m. before fireworks begin around 9:45 to conclude the city’s Star Spangled Spectacular in Corporate Woods Founders’ Park, 9711 W. 109th St. Event begins at 5 p.m., with food trucks and Overland Park Civic Band at 6 p.m. Parking at Corporate Woods. Bring lawn chairs or blankets. Rain date July 5 for fireworks only.
▪ Prairie Village: VillageFest, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 77th Street and Mission Road. Pancake breakfast for $5. Other events beginning at 9, including crafts, a children’s parade you can join at the last minute, petting zoo, pony rides, classic car show, children’s activities and music.
▪ Leawood: Celebration in the Park at Leawood City Park, 10601 Lee Blvd. Pool will be open from noon to 6 p.m. Starting at 6: kids’ activities, food vendors, contests and games, entertainment and a performance at 7:30 p.m. by the band Hot House. Fireworks about 9:45 p.m. No parking at site. Free parking along Tomahawk Creek Parkway with shuttles to and from the park.
▪ Olathe: Fourth of July Fireworks about 9:45 p.m. at College Boulevard Activity Complex, 11031 S. Valley Road. Gates open at 4:30 p.m. Parking at the site as well as Olathe Northwest High School, 21300 College Blvd., and Meadow Lane Elementary School, 21880 College Blvd.
▪ Gardner: July 4 Celebration, at Celebration Park and Sports Complex, 32501 W. 159th St. Entertainment begins at 3:30 p.m. with fireworks at 10. Musicians include Jerrod Niemann, Runaway June, Big Time Grain Company and Rachel Louise Taylor. Bounce houses, face painting and portable zip lines, too.
▪ Powell Gardens: Booms and Blooms Festival will include food, vendors, Lee’s Summit Symphony and fireworks. 3 p.m. June 30; Gardens open 9 a.m.
▪ Worlds of Fun: BBQ & Boom featuring smoked barbecue, craft beers and fireworks. 10 a.m.-10 p.m. July 4, 4545 Worlds of Fun Ave. $41-$62; free for military on July 4; worldsoffun.com, 816-303-5120
▪ Parkville: July 4th Celebration with pancake breakfast, parade, carnival, music and fireworks finale. 7 a.m. July 4. Most events downtown. parkvillemo.orgevent/parkville-4th-of-july-carnival
▪ Weston: Parade, children’s activities, music and fireworks. 10 a.m. July 4. Weston City Park, westonmo.com, 816-640-2909
activities and more. 4 p.m. July 4. Grand Boulevard and Riverfront Road. $5; kcriverfest.com
▪ Smithville: Fireworks display. 9 p.m. July 4. Smithville Lake dam. smithvillechamber.org
▪ Platte City: Patriotic music and fireworks. 9:45 p.m. July 4. Platte Ridge Park. plattecitymo.com