Summit Waves Aquatic Facility cancels black teen’s party as Lee Summit water park in Kansas City is accused of racism, after staff complained of being uncomfortable after alleged crowd of 500 people arrived.
Chris Evans said he signed a $2,000 contract with Summit Waves Aquatic Facility in Lee’s Summit to host 250 people for his 17-year-old son’s birthday party on Saturday, but officials said a crowd twice the size appeared, Lee’s Summit Tribune reported.
During a Tuesday news conference, Evans said his family was told ‘this event doesn’t represent Lee’s Summit Waves’ and that his reservation was canceled because a park official was ‘uncomfortable.’
A video of the heated argument (see below) with the Evans family and a park employee shows the family demanding an answer, with the official not giving a clear response as she’s flanked by police officers.
‘If this was a large group of white folks, there wouldn’t be a problem,’ a family member tells the employee, who shakes her head no as the park denies the allegations. Evans says: ‘I know you don’t know us, I just want to know why you’re uncomfortable with us.’
Kansas City youth group was denied access into Summit Waves Water Park in Lee’s Summit, Missouri due to their skin color.
Summit Waves owner said she “didn’t feel comfortable” and “they didn’t represent Summit Waves”. pic.twitter.com/8agn5IKy18
— CHOOSY (@CH005Y) August 10, 2022
Canceled because the park staff were uncomfortable with a group of Black teenagers?
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 family also promoted the event on social media despite the contract stating that would not happen.
Park department officials said up to 500 people showed up in the parking lot for the party, with the park having a size capacity limit of 600.
But Evans claimed the event was canceled before the teens arriving, while insisting there was ‘never anything close to 500 kids in the parking lot.’
‘My kids were heartbroken that the party was canceled,’ the father 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.’
‘It appears to have been canceled simply because the park staff was uncomfortable with a group of Black teenagers having a pool party to enjoy the end of the summer,’ Evans said during Tuesday’s conference.
Following the viral incident where Black teens rented out a Lee’s Summit (MO) Waterpark only to be turned away when a manager found out they were Black, the family is now holding a press conference.
They say legal action is highly likely. pic.twitter.com/zoFLTV5Bcl
— The Kansas City Defender (@KCDefender) August 9, 2022
‘We must intentionally embrace a culture that is welcoming and inclusive…’
Officials said they grew worried about the event after other parents called asking about party details and safety concerns due to the size.
After several unsuccessful efforts to reach the Evans prior to their arrival, the department decided to cancel the party and offer the family a $2000 refund 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.
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 dailymail reported.
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.
Lee’s Summit mayor responds following cancellation at water park https://t.co/bZNLhul1h4
— TeeBeeDee1 (@BrewmasterNY) August 10, 2022
Ingrained racism, prejudice and discrimination within the community
The department said it would review its rental processes, including communication, and improve training to align with the city’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
‘A sincere apology is owed to the Evans family and our Lee’s Summit community,’ Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation said in a statement. ‘LSPR strives to be a respectful and inclusive organization where all members of our community feel welcome and appreciated.
‘Inappropriate language, social media posts and behavior are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.’
The incident comes amid backlash against Sesame Street’s themes park and Chuck E. Cheese, where black parents claimed their children were snubbed by costumed mascots due to their race.