In the Loop

Kansas City’s Best Fireworks Displays

KC Riverfest – July 4th
Since 2005, KC RiverFest has become the premier Independence Day celebration for Kansas City. Located on the Missouri River at the beautiful Berkley Riverfront Park, KC RiverFest is a celebration of our culture, heritage and country. “Kansas City’s Riverfront Tradition” is known as the only place in downtown Kansas City to celebrate the Fourth of July weekend with fireworks and family entertainment. Enjoy concerts, fun from Radio Disney, children’s activities, and one of the most magnificent fireworks displays on the Fourth of July! $10/parking. Tickets at the gate are $5; children age 5 and under are free.
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Booms & Blooms Festival at Powell Gardens – July 3rd
Get an early start on your Fourth of July celebration by visiting Powell Gardens on July 3. It’s peak season to enjoy more than 400 varieties of daylilies in the garden, plus see the largest edible landscape display in the region. Tasting stations will be open from 1 to 7 p.m.
Kids will enjoy a splash through the fountain garden and a tour of the Nature Connects Lego brick sculptures and many other activities.
Music begins at 4:30 p.m. with a performance by Luehrman, Shaffer & Check on the lawn near the Fountain Garden. The Lee’s Summit Symphony Orchestra takes the stage at 7:30 p.m. for a pops concert that includes all your patriotic favorites.
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Star Spangled Spectacular: Overland Park, July 4th
Every year, Corporate Woods comes alive on the Fourth of July. At 4:30 p.m. in the afternoon, a crowd that swells to more than 100,000 share camaraderie, music and family activities to celebrate our country’s birth and the veterans who protect us. This is one of the biggest and best fireworks displays in the metropolitan area and can be seen from several miles away. Food, drink and merchandise vendors are on hand and musical acts perform before the fireworks begin. All proceeds generated from this free event benefit local charities.
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Trent Green Family Foundation Partners With Phoenix Family

More than 2,000 Kansas City-area children have a brighter hope for the future, thanks to a new literacy program established by the Trent Green Family Foundation. The HIKE Reading Achievement Program will provide expert instruction, academic support and educational resources to raise the reading level of every child in a Phoenix Family community.

Former Chiefs quarterback Trent Green and his wife Julie recently unveiled the new program at Phoenix Family’s 10th annual benefit dinner and awards ceremony at the Kansas City Convention Center. Phoenix Family provides critical services to more than 5,300 residents living in 32 communities in 12 cities throughout Kansas and Missouri.

“For the Trent Green Family Foundation, nothing is more important than the future of Kansas City’s youth,” says Trent Green, chairman of the foundation. “And when we learned that children who can’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school — and children from low-income families are six times more likely to drop out — we knew we had to do something. This will help instill the key to education.”

Phoenix Family’s Executive Director Kimber Myers Givner explains that the most effective way of breaking the cycle of poverty is to increase the reading skills of children.

“Kids who read at less-than-grade-level in elementary tend to never catch up,” she says. “In fact, 100 percent of seventh graders at Phoenix Family communities read below their grade level. So we’re thrilled to partner with the Trent Green Family Foundation to hike the skills of Kansas City’s neediest children.”

The goal of the HIKE Reading Achievement Program is to improve the reading proficiency of every child in a Phoenix Family community and, in turn, increase high school graduation rates.

The program focuses on two key short-term goals: 1. Fifty percent of participants will improve their reading/language skills as measured through the iReady assessment and curriculum. 2. Forty percent of participants will increase their fluency and automaticity as tested through reading comprehension tests, in order to increase their reading proficiency by at least one grade level over the course of the program.

The public is invited to be a part of the HIKE Reading Achievement Program in several ways. Green says volunteers are needed to be reading coaches at the Phoenix Family sites, donations are needed to provide nine onsite reading specialists, and books are needed to help children foster their very own love of reading.

Since 1999, the Trent Green Family Foundation has donated millions of dollars to support and develop family-focused programs that improve the health and wellness, education, and the future of Kansas City kids in need.

For information on joining the team, email


Overland Park Soldier  Remembered

A soldier and Blue Valley West High School graduate was killed on June 3.

Second Lt. Justin Lee Sisson, 23, of Phoenix, Ariz., died of injuries sustained by a suicide vehicle-borne improvised explosive device in Tsamkani, Afghanistan, according to the Pentagon.

Sisson, who grew up in Overland Park, was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 506th Infantry Regiment, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), Fort Campbell, Ky.

Spc. Robert Allan Pierce, 20, of Panama, Okla., also died in the attack.

Sisson was an Eagle Scout and the captain of the Blue Valley West wrestling team. He graduated in 2007.

After high school, he followed his father’s footsteps and attended Florida State University, graduating in 2012.

After college, Sisson followed his grandfathers’ path to the Army. He was commissioned as a second lieutenant in May 2012.

Sisson’s awards and honors include the Bronze Star Medal (posthumous), Army Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Army Service Ribbon, Overseas Service Ribbon, and the Sapper Badge.

In honor of Sisson, Arizona Gov. Jan Brewer ordered that all flags at all Arizona state buildings be flown at half-staff. A memorial ceremony was conducted in Afghanistan.

Sisson is survived by his parents, Kevin B. Sisson and Phyllis M. Sisson, and his brother, Ryan, all of Phoenix.


The Indomitable World of Herb Strange

Three years ago, Leawood resident Herb Strange broke a world record for powerlifting when he recorded a 230-pound bench press — a feat any would admire in a man half his age, but unheard of for a 77-year-old.

The strange thing about Mr. Strange, he continues to get better with age.

This time, at the age of 80, he’s broken new ground, lifting a staggering 250 pounds, earning him a new world championship title and the awe of family, friends and strangers from afar.


Save the date for the party of the summer

Thursday, August 1 is the date of this summer’s most important event — 435 magazine’s Most Fabulous Party. The area’s best restaurants will come together under one roof to provide you with a chance to sip, savor and party along with the best that Kansas City has to offer at this signature event.

Enjoy delicious appetizers served by the area’s award-winning restaurants. Not to miss is your chance to mix and mingle with friends, new and old.


Beans and greens at farmers market

Beans and Greens, a program that works to nourish neighborhoods with local produce as well as improve affordability and accessibility, is offering to “match” the value of SNAP dollars and KS Senior Coupons at area farmers markets, including the Overland Park Farmers’ Market.

Bring Vision or Quest cards to the farmers market. Go to the market information booth located at the upper end of the market by the clock tower. Deduct desired amount from Vision or Quest card at the market’s EBT machine. SNAP (EBT) Dollars and Double Value are given in the form of wooden tokens.

Wooden tokens can then be used to make purchases from farmers at the market, providing low-income families the opportunity to enjoy the goodness and quality of fresh food.


Local Lawyer Recounts Historic Late 1800s Story

After a decade’s worth of research, study and investigation, Jim Muehlberger published his book, “The Lost Cause: The Trials of Frank and Jesse James.”

Muehlberger’s book delivers the 150-year-old story of how a young lawyer, Henry McDougal, sued Frank and Jesse James and later prosecuted Frank James, and how those hearings helped bring nationwide prominence to the Midwestern outlaws.

Muehlberger, a partner at the Shook, Hardy & Bacon law firm in Kansas City and a graduate of the University of Kansas Law School, reaped high praise for his book, even before it hit bookstore shelves on May 24. Publishers Weekly said “The Lost Cause” narrates a “fascinating story,” and called the book a “thrilling” Wild West drama as well as an “insightful” story of a country trying to rebuild.

Passed down through the generations by word-of-mouth, Muehlberger took the story and tracked down old records.

Throughout northwest Missouri, Muehlberger’s 10-year journey consisted of digging through dusty courthouse files and materials. In order to gain more knowledge about the case, Muehlberger also interviewed local historians in Gallatin, Mo., where the historic lawsuit took place.

Muehlberger eventually gathered all of the facts he needed and penned the story.

Profits from sales of the book will be donated to Lawyers for Kids, a charitable organization established by Muehlberger.

Lawyers for Kids provides funds to foster and adopted children and their parents in Jackson County, Mo., for special needs and educational and recreational activities that they can’t afford.


Soccer Complex Hosts National Championships

The US Youth Soccer Association’s National Championships return to the Overland Park Soccer Complex July 23-28. The top 88 teams of boys and girls,‚Ä®ages 13 to 19, from across the country compete at this annual event, which rotates sites throughout the nation.

“You will see future Division One college soccer players at this tournament,” says Mike Laplante, soccer complex manager. “This exceptional national tournament is coming back to Overland Park following its successful appearance in 2010, our first year of operations here at the soccer complex.”

As with the 2010 National Championships, the boys U-19 championship game, the McGuire Cup, will be broadcast Saturday night, July 27, live on Fox Soccer.

Participants associated with the national, regional and local tournaments held at the complex have a tremendous impact on local businesses including retailers, restaurants and hotels, says Laplante.

“We are extremely busy at the complex,” he says. “Players, coaches and families need places to eat, shop and stay. Our complex is popular and highly regarded in the nation as a tournament site.”

The complex is hosting 20 tournaments in 2013 including the Region II President’s Cup June 13-16, the US Adult Soccer Association Women’s National Cup June 25-27, and the US Adult Men’s Regional Cup June 28-30.

This summer, ranked the Overland Park Soccer Complex as the No. 1 facility in the nation. Livability cited, among its references, the fact that the Overland Park Soccer Complex is “the only complex of its kind in the United States. And get this, each field contains a cooling system to control the temperature of the turf.”


Halls to Close on Country Club Plaza in 2014

Halls Country Club Plaza will close late in the summer of 2014 and relocate all operations to Crown Center. Shoppers can look forward to the unveiling of a well-appointed, re-imagined 60,000-square-foot department store in the Crown Center shops.

Slated to open in September 2014, the $10 million project will mark the arrival of the sole retail tenant on the third level of the center and will showcase the current Halls departments as well as an in-store café. The existing Halls store in Crown Center will close in early 2014 to allow for construction of the new store.

The Crown Center shopping, hotel, office and entertainment district adjoins the headquarters of Hallmark Cards, Inc., which owns both Crown Center Redevelopment and Halls.

Shoppers will find a fresh new design in the new version of Halls, thanks to bright, crisp accents. The new luxury experience includes a 5,000-square-foot beauty department, complete with a private treatment room and expanded fitting rooms appointed with custom furniture and designer wall coverings.

The expanded facility will offer convenient parking just steps from the store’s third floor entrance.


KC’s Recognized as a “Best Beer City”

Kansas City has been named among the top 10 of America’s Best Beer Cities, according to Travel + Leisure readers who recently voted in the magazine’s America’s Favorite Cities survey.

KC ranked No. 5.: “Local favorite Boulevard Brewing Co. is now the nation’s 10th largest craft brewer and — despite the city’s ho-hum ranking for romance — recently introduced a barrel-aged ‘sour’ ale called Love Child No. 3. In the city’s historic Westport neighborhood, you’ll find McCoy’s, which has a following for its ginger shandy and raspberry wheat and does regular tasting nights. Other enticements for down-to-earth beer fans: Kansas City won the survey for its barbecue and for being affordable.”