Lee’s Summit officials defend canceling Black teen’s birthday party at city water park

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Update: On Tuesday, Chris Evans spoke at a news conference about the incident at Summit Waves. He said his family was discriminated against and he disputed some of the explanations offered by city officials below. That story is here.

Lee’s Summit officials on Monday defended canceling a Black teenager’s birthday party over the weekend, saying about 500 teens, about twice the number planned, showed up at the Summit Waves Aquatic Facility, according to a news release.

The Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation canceled the party rental for Saturday evening after it became aware of social media posts advertising the event, according to a press release from Joe Snook, administrator of the department.

“This raised serious concerns about the safety of party guests and the possibility the event would grow beyond the capacity of staff,” according to the release.

The parks and recreation department was unable to reach the family in advance of the event to discuss safety concerns, according to news release. The only recourse was to cancel the event, Snook said.

Chris Evans, the teen’s father, declined to comment Monday afternoon, referring calls to his attorney. The attorney could not immediately be reached.

A social media post from Saturday evening shows Evans talking to a park official after being informed the party was being canceled.

In the video, Evans asks why park staff were uncomfortable. One person on the recording says, “because we are Black.”

@kansascitydiscover Kansas City youth denied access to summit waves a water park in Lee Summit, Missouri due to their skin color. Yesterday a youth age private party was canceled on his birthday because summit waves owner said she “ didn’t feel comfortable “. She proceeded and told the group “ that they didn’t represent summit waves”. She told the group that she’d refund them their money and proceeded to shut the pool down. However guards have been caught making racist slurs on Snapchat towards the group since being outed.#racism #sadstory ♬ original sound - KC Discover

The parks and recreation department declined to comment on the claims that the Evans party was denied entry because of racism, saying the press release contained all the information that they were releasing at this time.

Despite the cancellation, about 500 teens arrived in Summit Waves parking lot, according to the news release.

Among its rental options, the aquatic center offers after-hour party rentals of its entire facility for various sized groups — small groups of 100 or less guests, medium groups of 100-250 guests and large groups of 251-1,400 guests, according to its website.