New York Daily News: By Brian Niemietz – A Missouri water park has apologized to a Black family that booked the venue for a big party, but was left high and dry.
Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation said in a statement published Tuesday that it had conducted an internal review of an August 6 event it booked, then canceled on a day when hundreds of teens were hoping to beat the summer heat and have some fun. That investigation “identified missed processes and miscommunication that led to the cancellation”, administrator Joe Snook wrote in his lengthy explanation.
“A sincere apology is owed to the Evans family and our Lee’s Summit community,” he wrote.
Lee’s Summit is the Kansas City Metropolitan Area, and sits near Missouri’s border with Kansas.
According to LSPR, the Evans family booked the park on July 8 for a birthday party that was to have lasted from 7:30 to 9:30pm. Park officials said that on August 4, they became aware of a social media post advertising an event called “Splash Blast 2″ that was being hosted at its water park during that time. Promoting events at the park is in violation of the venue’s rental terms.
“It has been our experience, that social media marketing and/or ticket sales have the potential to increase event attendance beyond the number initially stated and can result in insufficient staffing and security,” the statement reads.
The park claims it reached out to the Evanses to discuss the matter, but did not get a return call. On the day of the party, park officials said they received 15 calls from parents asking for information about the big bash and became concerned the crowd size would exceed the 250 guests they were staffed to host safely. Staffers said they called the Evans’ family twice on Saturday to discuss the matter, then at 5 p.m., made the decision to cancel the party.
“The renting party returned the phone call to Summit Waves staff at approximately 5:30 pm. They were notified at that time of the cancellation and that LSPR would provide a full refund,” the venue’s statement claims. “The renting party arrived around 6:15 pm at which time LSPR staff reiterated the event was canceled.”
Police estimate 500 people had arrived at the park by 7:30 p.m. That, LSPR officials said, was more than their staffers and security officers could handle.
“The cost of security is paid by the rental party but is arranged and booked by LSPR,” the park stated. ”Through our investigation, LSPR found that staff failed to arrange security for the event.”
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Officers from the Lee’s Summit Police Department or Jackson County Sheriff’s office are required to be on hand for large crowds, the park stated.
Chris Evans, the father of the two teens who’d planned the party, accused LSPR workers of participating in “racial profiling and discrimination.”
He told reporters that his “heartbroken” sons, Isaiah and Chris Evans, had deposited $2,000 for the event and didn’t know why their party was being canceled when they arrived to the park at 6:20 p.m. to get things started.
“Lee’s Summit says it made multiple attempts to contact us about concerns before the event however the employee called my business line on a non-business day, that doesn’t get checked on weekends,” Evans said
Kansas City station KSHB reports that Evans said his kids are well-behaved, do well in school and “do not deserve to be treated like this.”
He also disputes that claim that 500 people showed up for the event.
Adding insult to injury, Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation said that the following morning they were made aware of “a disturbing social media post made by a part-time Summit Waves lifeguard” regarding Saturday’s chaos. Park officials vowed that “appropriate actions” would be taken to deal with that situation as well as any staffers who may have behaved inappropriately Saturday.
“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,” park officials insisted.
The park said it planned to speak with the Evans family again Wednesday.
Top Feature Photo: Summit Waves (Google Maps)