A father has accused a Kansas City water park of racism after abruptly canceling his son’s birthday party when 500 people reportedly arrived and staff felt “uncomfortable”.
Chris Evans said he signed a $2,000 contract with the Summit Waves Aquatic Facility at Lee’s Summit to accommodate 250 people for his 17-year-old son’s birthday celebration on Saturday, but officials said a crowd twice that size turned up .
At a Tuesday news conference, Evans said his family had been told “this event does not represent Lee’s Summit Waves” and that his reservation was canceled because a park official felt “uncomfortable.”
Video of the heated argument involving the Evans family and a park worker shows the family demanding an answer, with the officer giving no clear answer as she is flanked by police officers.
“If this was a large group of white people, there wouldn’t be a problem,” said a family member of the employees, who shook her head when the park denied the allegations.
Evans says, “I know you don’t know us, I just want to know why you’re uncomfortable with us.”
Chris Evans claimed his family faced racial discrimination when the Summit Waves Aquatic Facility in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, canceled his son’s birthday party
Chris Evans and his wife (left) confronted a park employee (right) about the cancellation on Saturday. Evans signed a $2,000 deal to accommodate 250 people, but officials said he didn’t prepare properly and was uncomfortable with an alleged crowd of 500 people
Park officials claimed a crowd twice the agreed-upon size turned up for the birthday celebration and accused the family of promoting the event on social media
Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation Department, which operates the water park, said in a statement released Tuesday that it apologized to the Evans family for misunderstandings and missed processes that led to the cancellation.
The statement said the investigation found the department failed to arrange additional security for the party, which Evans paid as part of his contract.
Park officials said the family also promoted the event on social media, although the contract said that would not happen.
Parks Department officials said up to 500 people showed up in the parking lot for the party, with the park having a capacity limit of 600.
But Evans claimed the event was canceled before the teenagers arrived and there were “never anywhere near 500 kids in the parking lot”.
“My kids were heartbroken that the party was canceled,” he said. “They are good kids who get good grades, have bright futures and don’t deserve to be treated like that. And that goes for all the kids in the park that day.”
“It appears to have been canceled simply because park staff were uncomfortable with a group of black teenagers having a pool party to enjoy the end of summer,” Evans said during Tuesday’s conference.
Officials said they were concerned about the event after other parents called to ask about party details and safety concerns because of the size.
After several unsuccessful attempts to reach the Evans before they arrived, the department said they decided to cancel the party.
“Safety related to the expected crowd and the potential impact on party guests and staff was the only reason for the cancellation,” the statement said.
Evans said the party was for his son Isaiah, 17, (left), who organized the party with his brother Noah (right). The two had saved up money to host the party with friends
An investigation by Parks and Rec officials found that the park did not arrange additional security for the event, which Evans paid for. Officials apologized to the family
Pictured: Several teenagers wait in front of the Summit Waves Aquatic Facility
The employee who argued with the parents repeatedly apologized for the incident and rejected allegations of racism. The city’s mayor said another employee posted “disturbing” comments about the incident on social media, prompting an apology to the family
Lee’s Summit Mayor William Baird on Tuesday criticized the department’s handling of the incident, denouncing “appalling” statements made by a park worker on social media after the incident.
“We must consciously adopt a welcoming and inclusive culture, and we must continuously denounce any urge or impulse to exclude,” he said.
Tuesday’s parks department statement said its manager apologized to the Evans family for the “inappropriate and insensitive language” used by staff and said appropriate action was being taken.
The department said it will review its leasing processes, including communications, and improve training to align with the city’s diversity and inclusion efforts.
“A sincere apology goes out to the Evans family and our Lee’s Summit community,” Lee’s Summit Parks and Recreation said in a statement. “LSPR strives to be a respectful and inclusive organization where all members of our community feel welcome and valued.
“Inappropriate language, social media posts and behavior are not acceptable and will not be tolerated.”
The incident comes amid backlash at the Sesame Street theme park and Chuck E. Cheese, where black parents have claimed their children have been snubbed by costumed mascots because of their race.
Ecstasy sets in as Cheese approaches. But the mouse lets the two-year-old hang and walks away
A video shared widely on social media shows two other black girls from New York appearing to be snubbed by a costumed attendant during a parade at the Sesame Street theme park in Langhorne, outside of Philadelphia
Earlier this week, Naney D. Muhammad told TMZ she was unfazed by an apology she was given by Chuck E. Cheese Corporate and that she plans to go to court to seek a settlement against a Wayne, New Jersey, to find.
In it, Cheese was seen giving a hearty helping of high fives in front of a stage full of white children, before seemingly completely ignoring the exuberant and cheering black two-year-old at his feet.
“My 2 year old was racially discriminated against,” Muhammed wrote on the video, “as you can see he is giving Hi-5s to all the yt kids and ignoring my black baby DELIBERATELY.”
The latest lawsuit announcement comes after the family of the two girls, who appeared to have been snubbed by a character at a Sesame Square in Langhorne, Pennsylvania, announced they were suing the park for $25 million.
“Just looking at her face makes me want to cry every time I see it,” said the girls’ father, Quinton Burns, during a press conference announcing the suit.
In this video, the two black girls from New York were passed over by the character Rosita, who had just stepped away from interacting with a bunch of white kids.
Sesame Place issued a statement apologizing for the incident, explaining that the actor in the costume simply couldn’t see the girls due to the actor’s limited field of vision.