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Nick’s Picks | Summer Beckons on Memorial Day Weekend Party Time

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Above image credit: "Kansas City Week in Review" host Nick Haines. (John McGrath | Flatland)
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5 minute read

Is there anything like the feeling of the last day of school?  

This is the final week of classes for school districts on both sides of the state line. 

Public pools open this weekend.  

And with Memorial Day on Monday, it’s going to be a three-day weekend for many of us. 

Can we say this is the unofficial start of summer? 

Here at Kansas City PBS, it’s all hands on deck this week as we prepare to broadcast Celebration at the Station on Sunday. It is the largest free Memorial Day concert in the region, with the Kansas City Symphony performing under the stars, with live cannons and fireworks. 

If you don’t want to pack a blanket and bug spray, you can watch the entire event live on KCPBS. The concert airs on Sunday at 8 p.m.  

The Kansas City Symphony performing at the "Celebration at the Station."
The Kansas City Symphony at Celebration at the Station. (Brad Austin | Flatland)

DeSantis Preps Presidential Bid 

While many of us may be getting ready for the Memorial Day holiday, it’s set to be a big week in politics.  

The race for president is about to get more crowded. 

On Wednesday, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis is expected to formally announce he is challenging Donald Trump for the Republican nomination.  

And Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina will officially kick off his bid for the White House today. Scott is the only Black Republican in the U.S. Senate.  

Mission Gateway Showdown 

I’ve been burned too many times in the past to say this is the final decision for the Mission Gateway project, but officials in Mission say this is a “make it or break it” week for the cursed piece of property along Shawnee Mission Parkway in Johnson County. 

The project’s development team has been ordered to appear at a city council meeting Wednesday night to detail how they plan to pay back nearly $500,000 in overdue property taxes.  

The city has sent a default notice to the developers and a New York bank is looking to foreclose on the property after several missed mortgage payments. 

It’s been 18 years since the Mission Mall closed on the site. It remains a half-finished construction zone. Originally proposed as the venue for the region’s biggest aquarium, current plans call for a movie and entertainment zone, along with offices and apartments. 

Last Week, Reviewed

Election Changes 

This week the Kansas City Council is set to vote on some big election changes. 

If you haven’t been paying attention, Mayor Quinton Lucas wants to move local elections from April and June. Instead, you would decide mayoral and council races at the same time you vote for bigger offices like governor and Congress in August and November. Lucas also wants to ditch local run-off elections if a candidate wins more than 50% of the vote in their primary. 

The mayor is in a rush to get the changes approved so they can be put before voters on this August’s ballot. 

Speaking of ballot deadlines… 

Next Tuesday is the deadline to add a new downtown ballpark to the August ballot. With so many questions still up in the air, including a final location for the stadium, it looks like Royals officials will have to wait until November or later before making a public ask of voters. 

Waiting on Parson  

It’s been nearly two weeks now since Missouri lawmakers sent several transgender restriction bills to the governor’s desk. So far, Gov. Mike Parson has yet to act on them. 

Parson has until Thursday to sign or veto the measures. One prohibits transgender athletes from competing in women’s sports. A second bill bans transition-related medical care for minors.  

In a pre-emptive move, the Kansas City Council has voted to defy state laws and create a “safe haven” for transgender residents. 

Stealth Planes Return 

Did you know that the military’s most expensive planes and one of the most sophisticated flying machines in existence is housed just down the road from us? 

Whiteman Air Force Base, just east of Warrensburg, is the military’s only home for the B-2 stealth bomber. 

Less known is that the entire 20-plane fleet has been grounded for the past five months. 

The Air Force ordered the unprecedented action after a B-2 caught fire during an emergency landing at the mid-Missouri base last December. 

At a cost of $2 billion a plane, the military did not want to take any chances. 

Now the all-clear sign has been waved.  

This week, the B-2’s pilots finally get to resume combat missions and take part in big flyover events.  

Almost invisible to radar, the plane has been used in nearly every significant American military operation over the last three decades. 

New Life for Schlitterbahn 

A new plan for redeveloping the defunct Schlitterbahn waterpark goes before Wyandotte County officials this week.  

The development team, led by former Sporting KC Chief Executive Officer Robb Heineman, had previously proposed building a youth sports complex on the site. But those dreams have now expanded to include a Margaritaville Resort hotel, and a Big Shots Golf entertainment complex, a concept like Top Golf. They’ve also added plans for an immersive art museum and an indoor go-kart attraction. 

Schlitterbahn closed four years ago. The waterpark saw a sharp decline in business after a 10-year-old boy died on the Verruckt water slide in 2016. 

Zambezi Zinger Returns 

An old favorite finally makes its return to Worlds of Fun this week. 

The reimagined Zambezi Zinger rollercoaster is set to open to the public on Friday. 

An earlier version of the ride was a favorite at the park before it was torn down in 1997. 

This Friday marks the 50th anniversary of when Worlds of Fun first opened its gates on May 26, 1973.  

It was originally planned to be twice the size. 

According to the park’s official history, Chiefs owner Lamar Hunt had designs on a 500-acre complex that would rival Disneyland with hotels, shops and restaurants. But the 1973 oil crisis hit during the park’s inaugural season, putting a damper on expansion efforts. Those plans were never revisited. 

Little Mermaid 

How do you feel about Hollywood remakes? Are they ever as good as the original? 

More than 30-years after Disney debuted “The Little Mermaid,” the animated children’s classic returns this week as a live-action film.  

The movie is already making waves after Disney picked Black actress Halle Bailey to play the title role of Ariel. Apparently, some people can’t get their arms around an African American playing a Disney princess. 

In the remake, comedian Melissa McCarthy is cast as Ursula, the sea-witch. 

It opens in Kansas City theaters on Friday. 

Distractions and Diversions 

Lawrence is known as a mecca for college basketball. This weekend, it becomes Woodstock for street performers.  

The 15th annual Lawrence Busker Festival starts Friday along Massachusetts Avenue.  

This has become a lot more than a few musicians propping up their guitar cases next to a tip sign. There are now performers taking part from around the world. The four-day festival runs through Memorial Day. 

One of the longest-running and best-selling music groups of all time is in town. The American rock band Chicago takes the stage at Starlight Theatre on Friday night. 

And Cirque du Soleil begins a four-day run at T-Mobile Center, starting on Thursday. 

A crime-fighting superhero takes over Union Station on Friday. It’s opening day for the new Spider-Man exhibit. Kansas City is the first stop on Marvel’s new nationwide traveling tour that explores the history and legacy of its web-spinning and wall-climbing character. 

Spider-Man: Beyond Amazing runs through October 1st

If you’ve got younger children or grandkids, you might want to check out a new free exhibit at Crown Center. It’s called Fairy Tale Village and it brings to life more than a dozen classic children’s stories from Cinderella to Goldilocks.  

It opens Saturday on Level 1 of the Crown Center shops. There is no admission charge. 

Nick Haines tracks the week’s most impactful local news stories on “Kansas City Week in Review,” Friday at 7:30 p.m. on Kansas City PBS.

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