A water park outside Kansas City is under fire for racial discrimination after abruptly canceling a planned birthday party at the park.
Chris Evans, who organized the party for 17-year-old Isaiah Evans, said he had signed a $1,900 contract to reserve the Summit Waves Aquatic Facility in the town of Lee’s Summit and host up to 250 guests at Saturday’s party. But when guests started showing up at the park, they were denied access to the facility.
Evans said that while he and his wife were on their way to the park to participate in the festivities, he received a message from a park official who said “this event does not represent Lee’s Summit Waves and that my reservation was canceled because she was uncomfortable”.
When Evans and his wife reached the park, police officers were on the scene to help park officials prevent partygoers from entering the facility. Part of the confrontation between guests and security officials was captured in a video that went viral on TikTok, amassing at least 1.7 million views.
In the video, where someone asks a park official “what are you uncomfortable with,” someone replies, “Because we’re black. Because we are black.”
Evans made it clear in subsequent comments that he felt the party was canceled due to racism from the park’s management.
“We believe that racial prejudice in our society should be identified and called out so that it can reduce the chance of repeated incidents,” Evans said in quotes published by Kansas City Star.
Lee’s Summit city officials on Monday defended the park’s decision to cancel the party, claiming that 500 teenagers had shown up for the party after it was advertised on social media and that certain social media posts made park officials concerned about ensuring the “safety of partygoers” “.
But Evans hit back at the claim that 500 people gathered for the party, and Lee’s Summit Mayor William Baird was equally unimpressed.
He said Tuesday that the city’s Parks and Recreation Department has launched an investigation into the incident and, in the meantime, urged the Parks and Recreation Department — which operates the water park — to “re-evaluate their approach.”
Baird also criticized comments made by employees at the water park to defend the cancellation of the event.
“The comments were appalling and not tolerated by Parks and Recreation, and are inconsistent with the culture I know the City of Lee’s Summit strives to reflect,” Baird said.
The city plans to fully reimburse the family for the cost of the party, but Evans said the indignation it inflicted on Saturday will remain.
“My kids were devastated that the party was cancelled,” he said. “They are good kids who get good grades, have a bright future and don’t deserve to be treated like this. And that applies to all the children in the park that day.”