After five years of hosting one of the largest Fourth of July events in the metro area, Jackson County has canceled this year’s fireworks display and festival at Longview Lake.
“We don’t have the budget for it,” county spokeswoman Angie Jeffries said Wednesday.
The county announced the decision on its parks department website, saying the event was being put “on hold while we focus our time and resources on our many other events, including this year’s 30th Annual Christmas in the Park Celebration.”
A list of alternate fireworks displays will appear on the county’s home page Thursday, Jeffries said.
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About 15,000 people attended last year’s free event, which in addition to fireworks featured skydivers, military tributes and a concert by The Romantics. In promotional material, the county billed it as “one of the greater Kansas City region’s most popular” Fourth of July celebrations.
Then-County Executive Mike Sanders started the event in 2012 to fill the gap left when several cities canceled their displays due to tight budgets brought on by the Great Recession.
Kansas City was hosting baseball’s All-Star Game that year, and the celebration was billed as a gift to county taxpayers for making it possible to host the game by taxing themselves for stadium upgrades.
Sanders rounded up corporate donations in that year and ensuing ones to augment the county contributions.
Of the $153,000 in total expenses last year, sponsorships accounted for $58,000 and the remaining $94,000 fell to county taxpayers.
That included the salaries of parks personnel who organized the event. Now those employees’ efforts under current County Executive Frank White will be focused on other needs, according to the Parks and Recreation Department.