First ever ‘Fountain Day Festival’ celebrates hallmark of Kansas City

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- Forty-six Kansas City fountains are now up and running for the spring, summer and fall. Wednesday marked the first ever Fountain Day Festival.

The Kansas City Parks Department decided it had plenty of reason to celebrate. Not only is this the 125th year, but last week`s bond passage means hopefully all 48 fountains around the city will be running from now on.

Following a ceremony, children were running through the Concourse Fountain at Kessler Park, Kansas City`s first park, which opened 125 years ago

"He was the first parks president and he was the landscape architect that made it all happen, then all the boulevards and parks in northeast area that were the start of our system," Mark McHenry, KC Parks and Recreation director, said.

"(Washington) D.C. is known for its monuments, we are known for our parks," Mayor Sly James said.

Over time Kansas City also became known as the "City of Fountains." The city now has 48, but the Meyer Circle and Spirit of Freedom fountains remain closed for renovations.

"Our fountains take a real toll, they are really expensive to upkeep because of the nature of our weather," Pat O`Neill, president of the City of Fountains Foundation, said. "They are outside, they freeze, they thaw, they go through all the pumps and the motors and that`s a lot of upkeep and over time. They deteriorate and they just need to be refreshed and restored and refurbished, and that takes money and resources."

The city hopes voter approval last week of $50 million for public building will also keep the fountains running for years to come.

"It`s a nice thing to say and obviously it brings a lot of people together, so it`s a good thing," resident Ben Radatz said. "It`s like everybody else, we take them for granted until they come on and then we realize how important they are to the fabric of our city."

If the city has more money to repair fountains it could help the foundation concentrate on fundraising for new fountains.