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Celebrate a greener 4th of July weekend

Challenge your family to a greener Fourth of July celebration with these tips, and have fun while reducing your impact on air quality this holiday weekend.

Traditionally, Independence Day is full of fireworks, barbecue and outdoor activities that Americans look forward to every year. However, the environmental impact of lighting the skies of your neighborhood is less positive. According to the Mid-America Regional Council, local air quality is compromised whenever chemicals are ignited, and this in turn contributes to pollution. Smoke, accelerants and heavy metals emitted by fireworks are especially risky for people with asthma, and traces of these chemicals can linger in the air and water weeks after the fireworks are extinguished.

But with a few simple tips, everyone could lessen these negative environmental effects, while keeping the fun and excitement in the celebration.

Start by shopping for your picnic fare at the farmers market and find local veggies, fruit, bread and meat that has a very small transportation footprint. Then reduce your impact at the grill. Avoid self-lighting charcoal and petroleum-based lighter fluid. Try using a charcoal chimney, natural lighter fluids or an electric charcoal starter to grill greener. Also consider joining friends for the meal prep, and light only one grill, instead of several.

Save money and reduce your contribution to air pollution by attending a professional fireworks display, instead of buying your own. (They are illegal in some cities, including Kansas City, MO). Many local displays also include music, food and other festivities. Here are a few of the family-friendly Kansas City metro events and fireworks displays to start your holiday weekend off with a bang.

Jackson County Fourth of July Celebration 5:30 – 10 p.m., July 4

Longview Lake Shelter #13, 9890 Longview Road, Kansas City, MO

Enjoy great food and music, a military tribute, kids carnival, and fireworks starting at 9:30 p.m. Admission is free.


KC Riverfest 4 – 11 p.m., July 4

Berkley Riverfront Park, Grand Blvd., Kansas City, MO

Celebrate with music, kids activities, food and the biggest fireworks show in the Midwest. The musical line-up includes The Phantastics, U.S. Air Force Band of Mid-America: Shades of Blue Ensemble and Members Only. The event is organized by Friends of the River-Kansas City, a non-profit group that supports the riverfront history, education, conservation and recreation. Admission is free from 4 – 5 p.m. After 5 p.m., tickets are $5 (cash only), and free for children 12 and under.


Lenexa Community Days Parade 10 a.m., July 4

Santa Fe Trail Drive & Pflumm Road, Lenexa, KS

The annual Lenexa Community Days Parade is a hometown tradition that draws thousands of spectators to Old Town Lenexa to celebrate Independence Day. 

Dozens of organizations, businesses and groups parade through the city. This year’s theme is Red, White and Royal.


Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m., July 4

1200 E. Kansas City Road, Olathe, KS

Enjoy living history and a reading of the Declaration of Independence at noon at the Mahaffie Stagecoach Stop and Farm. Cannon firings will be at 11 a.m., 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m. There will be patriotic songs, cook stove demonstrations and Mahaffie House tours from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. All activities are included with regular site admission, $7 adults, $5 children ages 5-11. Olathe residents receive $2 off admission.


Merriam Flags 4 Freedom July 2-9

5740 Merriam Drive, Merriam, KS

The Merriam Flags 4 Freedom display runs from July 2 – 9 with 1,400 U.S. flags displayed at the Merriam Marketplace and Irene B. French Community Center. The American Legion band will perform at 12:30 p.m.


Parkville July Fourth Celebration 10 a.m. – 10 p.m., July 4

English Landing Park, Parkville, MO

A parade begins at 10 a.m. at 63rd Street and Hey 9 and ends in Downtown Parkville. Festivities include a pancake breakfast, carnival, street vendors and fireworks.


CANCELLED: Powell Gardens Boom & Blooms 9 a.m. – 11 p.m., July 2

1609 N.W. U.S. Hwy. 50, Kingsville, MO

Kansas City’s botanical garden comes alive in a vibrant festival of daylilies, live music and fireworks on Saturday, July 2. Experience the Perennial Garden featuring 400 varieties of daylilies, and see the Heartland Harvest Garden, one of the nation’s largest edible landscapes with more than 2,000 species of edible plants. Daylilies will be available for purchase throughout the event, and the Heartland Harvest Garden’s Tasting Station is open from 1 – 7 p.m. Kids can splash in the Fountain Garden and explore the Jurassic Garden exhibit of dinosaur sculptures until 7:30 p.m.

There will be live music from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. by the Ernest James Zydeco Band and at 7:30 p.m. by the Lee’s Summit Symphony. The fireworks display begins at 9:30 p.m. Festival admission is $12 adults, $10 seniors, $5 children ages 5 – 12.


Westwood, Fairway, Roeland Park, Mission Woods and Westwood Hills Celebration July 3

This community event on July 3 kicks off on the eve of Independence Day with fireworks at 9:30 p.m. at Bishop Miege High School, 5041 Reinhardt Dr., Roeland Park, KS.


Photo: Armadil // CC BY


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