KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Sprint Center is usually reserved for concerts, games, shows, and other events. This weekend, it’ll be the place where Kansas City will host the Celebration of Life for two firefighters killed in the line of duty.
Organizers tell FOX 4 they’ve never had anything like this at the Sprint Center. They’re expecting thousands of people to come honor Larry Leggio and John Mesh, and pay respects to their families. The venue’s marquee, normally lit up with bright lights advertising popular entertainers, is now lit up with the names and faces of the two men who died fighting an apartment fire earlier this week.
Other metro fire departments are stepping in to free up Kansas City firefighters so they can attend the two-hour service and mourn.
KCFD Assistant Chief Donna Maize said, “I don’t think there’s any way to prepare for what tomorrow will bring.”
The Heart of America Fire Chiefs is a group made of up of metro fire chiefs. The HOA has stepped in to schedule coverage of Kansas City’s stations on Saturday.
Leawood Fire Chief David Williams said, “It’s rough on all of them, particularly those in Kansas City, but it’s rough on the whole fire service.”
Williams said, “You see it as a news story. We see it as everyday business. We’re just helping each other. It’s understood.”
The group is sending about 60 firefighters to cover about 15 stations across KCMO. Maize said KCFD appreciates the others stepping up to free up their firefighters.
“The crews that are out there in the fire stations tomorrow specifically, they want to come mourn the loss of their fellow firefighters as well as everybody else does,” said Maize.
The International Association of Firefighters Local 42 Union is spearheading the plans for Saturday’s celebration of life.
“It’s a busy weekend in Kansas City,” Local 42 President Bill Galvin said. “We know it’s going to be big with the Royals being in town here and their game. We know that KC Live over here is going to have a lot of parking spaces taken up also.”
Galvin asks the public to use the main doors, just as you would for any Sprint Center event.
Galvin said, “We have certain people that come into a VIP station, so please stay away from the Founder’s Club entrance, that’s where firefighters will be entering.”
Galvin didn’t want to reveal too many details about the service or the display before the service, because he wants to focus to be on the Leggio and Mesh families and allowing them to mourn and experience the day with those who loved their loved ones.
“We want everything to be special for the family,” said Galvin.
“I think it will be done very tastefully and very well and it’s just going to be a very respectful way to honor John Mesh and Larry Leggio,” added Maize.
Galvin said Grand will be shut down in front of the Sprint Center, in addition to some nearby surface parking lots reserved for fire trucks and fire equipment. He said your best bet for parking is lots that aren’t reserved or street parking.
FOX 4 is streaming the service live on Saturday. Check back for updates on fox4kc.com.