A Midwest Celebration of All Things Spring
Fountains, barbecue, baseball and flowers … spring in Kansas City is beautiful! This year, celebrate the best of the season with these Midwestern traditions.
Every April, we celebrate our trademark with Fountain Day. This year, visit the Delbert J. Haff Circle Fountain (Meyer Blvd & Swope Parkway) on April 16 when fountain season will be inaugurated as this fountain is turned on again for the season with a KC Parks ceremony.
Kansas Citians know that we are the City of Fountains, but you may not know that our first fountains were not for ornamental purposes. They were rather utilitarian, to provide water for horses, dogs and birds. The city’s first fountain was built in 1904 at Fourth & Minnesota for horses and dogs. It featured a large pedestal and a granite basin, and the water spewed from the mouths of lions into a taller bowl where people could get clean water as well. Since that time, it is said we have added more fountains than Rome. You can learn more about the history of our fountains and where to find them at KCFountains.com.
The First Robin of Spring
Seeing the first robin in your yard has long been considered a sign of spring. You can learn more about local birds and enjoy bird-watching at Burroughs Audubon Society (7300 SW West Park Rd., Blue Springs), a nature center and bird sanctuary in Fleming Park near Lake Jacomo. The center is home to a large natural history library and small wildlife prairie ideal for bird watching. The center offers education programs throughout the year for budding bird-watchers.
Tulips are spring’s signature flower. You’ll find the flower in bloom at the Country Club Plaza, Overland Park Arboretum, Loose Park, Kauffman Memorial Gardens and Powell Gardens. You can also celebrate at one of the Midwest’s spring festivals:
- Tulip Time in Topeka, April 5-28: Lake Shawnee blooms with 60,000 tulips, as well as daffodils, hyacinths and spring flowering trees. Multicolored varieties of tulips accent ornate structures, fountains and planting beds along paths through the garden and along the lake shore. Tulips at Twilight, April 12-28: This event features more than 35 lighted displays, including larger-than-life illuminated flowers and more than 40,000 multicolored tulips at Old Prairie Town at Ward-Meade Historic Site and Botanical Garden. The event includes live music and tours on Friday and Saturday evenings.
- Tulip Festival in Wamego, KS, April 27-28: Wamego, home to the Wizard of Oz Museum, celebrates spring annually with a festival featuring thousands of tulips from Holland and a large arts and craft fair in the city park where you’ll even see a Dutch-style windmill.
- Tulip Time in Pella, IA, May 2-4: My girls and I have made it is an annual tradition to visit Pella, for Tulip Time. The city celebrates their Dutch heritage with a three-day festival featuring daily parades (both a daytime and illuminated nighttime parade), dances, delicious Dutch foods (including fabulous pastries from Jaarsma Bakery) and tours. The historic village is brought to life by interpreters who teach visitors about their heritage at the wooden shoemakers shop, grist mill, working Dutch-style Vermeer windmill that grinds wheat into flour, library, bakery and childhood home of Wyatt Earp. This is one of our favorite weekend getaways with so much to see in this beautiful village. We enjoy watching the puppets dance through the windows of the Klokkenspel (musical clock on the square), walking along the canal and viewing the thousands of beautiful tulips. See our story on Pella, Iowa for more information.
Fire Up the Grill
You know it’s spring in Kansas City when the aroma of barbecue fills the air. It’s hard to resist the temptation to pick up ribs at McGonigle’s when driving along Ward Parkway, or a weekend stop at one of our favorite barbecue joints. Enjoying barbecue is part of our city heritage. In 1908, Kansas City’s “king of barbecue,” Henry Perry, sold a slab of pork ribs for 25 cents in the 18th & Vine neighborhood. Since that time, our city has created an art form, developing the best sauces and smoking the tastiest meats in the United States. According to the Kansas City Barbecue Society, we have more barbecue restaurants per capita than any other city in the United States. Whether you enjoy your barbecue at home on the backyard grill or at your favorite local restaurant, the smell of smoke is one of KC’s favorite signs of spring.
This year, the Royals’ home opener is on March 28, making April the first full month of baseball season. Since 1969, Kansas Citians have been cheering the boys in blue who’ve won two World Series Championships. Families can enjoy a day at Kauffman Stadium where they can purchase Blue Crew packages for kids (including discounted tickets and souvenirs) or take advantage of a Buck Night (dollar deals on refreshments) and fireworks after Friday night games.
Ride a Roller Coaster
Worlds of Fun opens for the season on April 13. Worlds of Fun is home to seven world-class roller coasters, including one of the tallest, longest and fastest roller coasters in the world. This thriller is the Mamba and boasts a first drop of 205 feet! The Patriot is a giant inverted coaster with four inversions that carries riders at a top speed of 65 mph. Enjoy a thrill as the entire family rides together on the Spinning Dragons, where the cars freely rotate along the track. Or ride the classic wooden roller coaster, the Timber Wolf. Guests of all ages love the live shows. Young children enjoy Planet Snoopy with great rides for kids, and the theme park boasts dozens of thrill rides and attractions for guests of all ages.
Let’s Go Fly a Kite
Kite flying is at once fun, whimsical, nostalgic and magical. Our family loves flying kites together while we enjoy spring picnics at local parks (see our KC Kite Flying Guide for our favorites). For beginners, we’re partial to the simple and inexpensive kites you find at local big box stores. For those wanting to learn how to fly a specialty kite or trick kite, Brookside Toy and Science, HobbyTown and Go Big Skill Toys are three great resources. Also, be sure to mark your calendar for Flights of Fancy on April 20 at MCC-Longview (500 SW Longview Rd., Kansas City, MO, KiteFest.MCCKC.edu). The kites of Great American Kites & Events will take flight over the lawn of the picturesque MCC-Longview campus in the heart of kite month. Marvel at awe-inspiring mega kites, power kites, stunt kites and more, including the world’s largest windsock—three stories high and 200 feet long!
Tip: For more spring inspiration, you’ll find guides to local waterfalls, hiking trails, picnic spots and parks on KCParent.com.
Kristina Light and her girls look forward to their annual visit to Pella where they enjoy stroopwafels, and Dutch pillows while watching delightful parades with thousands of tulips and a Windmill in the backdrop.