KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As pandemic restrictions begin to loosen, summer holiday plans begin to take shape.
The World War One Museum and Memorial is planning a Memorial Day weekend highlighted by the Great Kansas City Balloon Glow, a Sunday night event that will feature tethered hot air balloons, food trucks and live music. People in attendance will be asked to socially distance. Masks will be required — even for people who’ve been vaccinated.
“We still need to be very careful, but the restrictions are beginning to lift. I know people are chaffing at the bit, and we can gather safely,” Matthew Naylor, World War One Museum and Memorial president and CEO, said.
Naylor expects the museum’s 47-acre grounds to be busy that evening, May 30th. New restrictions, as introduced on Monday by Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, make this gathering possible. COVID-19 precautions canceled this and many other events in 2020. Naylor said the museum’s traditional Memorial Day Monday schedule of solemn military events is scheduled to return this year.
“We need to find fun ways for us to come together, yet continue to be safe. The only way we’re going to get the pandemic fully under control is to keep looking after one another. We think we can create a safe environment here,” Naylor said.
Naylor referenced the Spanish Flu pandemic of 1918 as reason people in 2021 need to observe and respect restrictions and the science behind them. Naylor said the popular Celebration at the Station, which usually draws 50,000 people, will not be held again this year due to the dangers of gathering oversized crowds.
Dr. Sarah Boyd, an infectious disease specialist with St. Luke’s Health System, cited recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control, recommending that vaccinated people should continue wearing masks at outdoor gatherings.
“I think we need to stay vigilant. Not everyone has been vaccinated,” Dr. Boyd said. “If you’re masked, and vaccinated and able to socially distance, that would be a much safer group gathering than maybe we’ve been able to have during the past year and a half during this pandemic.”
A spokesperson for St. Luke’s Health System said the hospital has opened its availability for COVID-19 vaccinations to everyone aged 16 and up, and not just the hospital’s patients. You can register for those appointments here.