Cleanup begins after July 4th celebrations leave debris in Kansas City area parks and neighborhoods


KANSAS CITY. Mo. — The messes have piled up.

Kansas City’s Department of Parks and Rec is overwhelmed, cleaning up leftover debris from people shooting fireworks in public parks while celebrating Independence Day on Sunday night.

The city’s 221 public parks are in need of attention, as many of them were found cluttered and dirty on Monday morning. When the fireworks went off, it appears most partiers ran off, leaving volunteers and city workers to clean up their mess.

“I don’t know where to start,” one volunteer was overheard saying.

Multiple areas of Swope Park, as well as other parks, were loaded with leftover fireworks containers, wrappers and ash leftover from Sunday night get-togethers in the park. Monday saw an army of public workers and volunteers teaming up to clean up. One Swope Park partier even left food burning on an abandoned grill.

“If you blow it up, pick it up,” Kelly Jander, a spokesperson for KC Parks and Rec, said. “It’s hard work, but it’s also disappointing. Our staff, residents and volunteers spent the entire year caring for the parks, and to have to do this, it isn’t fair to them.”

Neighbors living along Swope Park don’t like it either, especially an avenue filled with junk along the park’s east side. Cleanup workers were left to dodge oncoming traffic inside the park in many cases. The cleanup effort was expedited, since many park picnic shelters were rented and reserved on Monday.

“It’s because they’re lazy. They don’t want to clean up after themselves,” Titus Curtis, a neighbor said. “It’s crazy how people can come by and pop fireworks and they live across the street, but they won’t clean up their mess. You have to clean up your environment.”

“We have to pick up our own neighborhood. This is our neighborhood, and we talk about the hood what doesn’t happen in the hood. We need to talk about what we don’t do in our neighborhoods either,” Denise Smith, a neighbor who grew up attending activities in Swope Park, said.

Fireworks are illegal in Kansas City, Missouri and, thereby, forbidden in Kansas City Parks. A spokesperson for Kansas City Police told FOX4 officers have to prioritize urgent calls over fireworks related calls.

“This would make me very angry,” Kate Delehunt, a volunteer, said. “We need to take our partying to that next step and be responsible for what we leave behind.”

The cleanup will continue all week at various Kansas City Parks. If you can help with this program, please contact Kelly Jander at or via the Kansas City Parks and Rec website.

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