arkville’s annual July 4th festival included a carnival and parade while it drew over 20,000 participants from across the region. This five day celebration culminated in a fireworks display over the Missouri River.
Dark storm clouds loomed above Tuesday morning while crowds lined the one mile parade route. The festival’s theme was titled Rock Down Main where Mayor Kathy Dusenbery was chosen to be the Grand Marshal. She rode in the parade and officiated with her family alongside. The theme was chosen by The Parkville Main Street Association, who was in charge of planning the parade.
“By choosing this name, we wanted everyone to try and remember the good old days of Parkville,” said parade co-chair Tom Hutsler. “This is a festive and fun tradition we have had for 12 years. As everyone will see, this is a big political year where many of the floats represented are ones which feature different candidates, but we are continually trying to encourage non-profit groups to participate, too.”
There were 54 different floats represented, while 22 of those were politically motivated. Some candidates had as many as 30 people wearing their t-shirts and walking alongside their float handing out pamphlets and shaking hands. A representative of one female candidate told parade-goers “Visit her Website where she has a picture up, that way you’ll be able to remember what she looks like when she’s not sweating!”
However, the heat did not stop residents from lining the parade route over an hour in advance. Hutsler stated there were over 1,000 people in the parade’s procession, while an estimated 5,000 more sat along the route to watch.
Longtime Kansas City Chiefs radio announcer and Parkville resident Bill Grigsby served as the emcee and stood in Pocket Park along Main Street while he announced the many floats as they passed by. These ranged from local churches, businesses, the Chamber of Commerce, and classic cars.
It was planned to have the Falcon Exhibition Skydiving Team parachute into the English Landing ball park fifteen minutes after the parade began, but this stunt became impossible and unsafe due to too much cloud cover. Instead, the team parachuted into the park at 8:45 Tuesday night, an hour before the fireworks show began.
Other activities planned for the holiday included a breakfast buffet hosted by the American Legion from 8 to 11 a.m., which then continued to serve hamburgers in the afternoon to residents in a steady stream.
The carnival, hosted by Midland Empire Shows, ran its last day for 12 hours while the evening celebration ended in a fireworks show over the Missouri River. There were over 10 shuttle busses en route from both Park University and Park Hill South High School in order to provide parking Tuesday night. This way, residents were able to watch the show at the river’s edge, or privately from their own patio.