By Joe Jarosz
March 2, 2016
KANSAS CITY, Missouri — During the first weekend of May, First Friday weekend won’t just be known for food trucks and art vendors. It’ll also be known as the weekend of the first public streetcar ride in over 50 years.
City officials announced last week that Kansas City will throw a series of street parties along the streetcar route beginning Friday, May 6, for residents and visitors to celebrate the first day of public ridership on the KC Streetcar. Mayor Sly James said the grand opening of the KC Streetcar is more than a celebration of the end of construction and the opening of the line.
“This is the first step of what I believe will be a truly historic transformation of the entire city,” James said. “Building owners and developers have completed, started or announced more than $1.6 billion in construction in the KC Streetcar district since the route was announced three years ago. I’m confident the entire city will find new momentum as the KC Streetcar energizes the heart of our community.”
Specific details about the parties will be announced soon. Chris Hernandez, Director of City Communications, noted, however, there will be enough to eat and see to service the high numbers of those who attend. Hernandez added the event will have corporate sponsors and also be paid for by the city. More information will be posted online at www.kcstreetcar.org and www.kcmo.gov when it becomes available.
“Mark your calendar to celebrate with the city,” Hernandez said.
The KC Streetcar runs through the heart of downtown, connecting neighborhoods along the route: the River Market; the Central Business District; the Crossroads Arts District; and the Union Station and Crown Center area. Mike Hagedorn, Chairman of the KC Streetcar Authority and president/CEO of UMB Bank, said for many Kansas Citians, this day is long in the making.
“This weekend in May will not only be a time to celebrate the KC Streetcar but to also celebrate the people, businesses, and landmarks that make downtown so wonderful,” Hagedorn said.
Donna Mandelbaum, communications manager for the KC Streetcar Authority, noted the fourth Streetcar should arrive by the end of March. The city is planning for May 6 because all testing on every streetcar should be complete by then. Mandelbaum also noted there was discussion of a soft opening, however those plans were nixed in support of the city party.