AP

Missouri family says racism led to pool party cancellation

Aug 9, 2022, 1:44 AM | Updated: 4:07 pm

LEE’S SUMMIT, Mo. (AP) — A Black family says racism prompted officials at a suburban Kansas City water park to cancel a private pool party for their 17-year-old son’s birthday during the weekend.

Chris Evans said he signed a contract with Summit Waves Aquatic Facility in Lee’s Summit to host 250 people for the party on Saturday. But when his sons arrived at the park they were told the reservation was canceled and were not given a reason, Evans said at a news conference Tuesday.

Evans said he and his wife learned while they were on the way to the water park that “this event doesn’t represent Lee’s Summit Waves and that my reservation was canceled because (a park official) was uncomfortable,” The Kansas City Star reported.

That official, flanked by police officers, met the parents when they arrived and reiterated that the party would not be held.

“What are you scared of, Lee’s Summit?” Evans asked at the news conference. “Why are you uncomfortable?”

Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation Department, which operates the water park, said in a statement issued Tuesday that it apologized to the Evans family because of miscommunication and missed processes that led to the cancellation.

The statement said its investigation found the department failed to arrange additional security for the party, which Evans paid for as part of his contract. Parks officials said the event was promoted on social media although the contract said that would not happen.

After several unsuccessful efforts to reach the Evans, the department decided to cancel the party, according to the statement.

“Safety pertaining to the anticipated crowd size and the potential impact it might have on party guests and the staff was the sole reason for the cancellation,” the statement said.

Park department officials said up to 500 people showed up in the parking lot for the party but Evans countered the event was canceled before the teenagers arrived and there was “never anything close to 500 kids in the parking lot.”

“My kids were heartbroken that the party was canceled,” he said. “They are good kids who make good grades, have bright futures and do not deserve to be treated like this. And that goes for all the kids at the park that day.”

Lee’s Summit Mayor William Baird on Tuesday criticized the department’s handling of the incident and denounced “appalling” statements he said a park employee made on social media after the incident.

“We must intentionally embrace a culture that is welcoming and inclusive, and we must continually denounce any urge or impulse to exclude,” he said.

The parks department’s statement on Tuesday said its administrator apologized to the Evans family for “the inappropriate and insensitive language” used by staff and said appropriate actions would be taken.

The department said it would review its rental processes, including communication, and improve training to align with the city’s diversity and inclusion efforts.

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Photo: A delegate wears a hat with pins during the Republican National Convention Monday, July 15, ...

Christine Fernando, Steve People and Jill Colvin, The Associated Press

Rep. Walsh speaks for Washington as cheering GOP delegates nominate Trump for president

Cheering GOP delegates formally nominated Donald Trump for president at Monday's Republican National Convention kickoff.

5 days ago

Photo: Sen. J.D. Vance, R-Ohio, right, points toward Republican presidential candidate former Presi...

Jill Colvin, Julie Carr Smyth, Steve Peoples and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

Trump picks Sen. JD Vance of Ohio, a once-fierce critic turned loyal ally, as his GOP running mate

Donald Trump named Sen. JD Vance of Ohio as his running mate, choosing a onetime critic who became a loyal ally.

5 days ago

trump assassination...

Ayanna Alexander, The Associated Press

What to know about Trump assassination attempt and the investigation into the shooting

Authorities want to know how a shooter was able to get on top of a roof so close to where former President Donald Trump was speaking and open fire.

6 days ago

Photo: Republican presidential candidate former President Donald Trump is surrounded by U.S. Secret...

Julie Carr Smyth, Jill Colvin, Colleen Long, Michael Balsamo, Eric Tucker and Michelle L. Price, The Associated Press

Trump heads to convention as authorities investigate motive, security in assassination attempt

Trump called for unity and resilience after an attempt on his life added fresh uncertainty to an already tumultuous presidential campaign.

6 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks from the Roosevelt Room of the White House in Washington, Sunday,...

Will Weissert and Zeke Miller, The Associated Press

In primetime address, Biden says country must not go down road of political violence

President Joe Biden says “we can’t, we must not go down” the road of political violence in America after the attempted Trump assassination.

6 days ago

Photo: President Joe Biden speaks at a news conference following the NATO Summit in Washington, Thu...

Zeke Miller, Seung Min Kim, Lisa Mascaro and Colleen Long, The Associated Press

Biden says during news conference he’s going to ‘complete the job’ despite calls to bow out

Biden used his highly anticipated news conference to deliver a defense of his policies and batted away questions about his ability to serve.

9 days ago

Missouri family says racism led to pool party cancellation