A fireworks display won’t be part of the city of Kent’s Fourth of July Splash this year at Lake Meridian Park due to a lack of city parks and police staff.
After a two-year absence due to COVID-19, the event also will run from just noon to 5 p.m., with the park, 14800 SE 272nd St., closing at 7 p.m. Park gates will be locked at 9 p.m. Three bands will perform and the Pie Eating Contest will be back.
“We do not have enough parks or police staff to cover the event while still providing public safety and parks services to other areas of the city,” said Patti Belle, city spokesperson, in a May 24 email about the reasons for the changes.
The event previously featured a large fireworks display at about 10 p.m. over the lake. Music, games and other activities typically went from noon to 11 p.m. The special fireworks display received a city permit in order to operate. The city bans personal use of fireworks throughout town.
Despite the lack of employees, both the parks and police departments have struggled to fill job openings, city officials didn’t want to cancel the event.
“It’s important to the city to be able to continue the Splash tradition, even in a reduced capacity,” Belle said. “It was determined that a mid-day event, noon to 5 p.m., would allow for the greatest number of people to enjoy a long, lazy afternoon of music, fun activities and food and still have plenty of time for their evening plans if they wish.”
Mayor Dana Ralph revealed in her weekly update to residents last week that Fourth of July Splash would return.
“I’m super excited to announce that our Fourth of July Splash is back with a new look and new time,” Ralph said. “There will be music, food, family activities and games for kids.”
The popular Pie Eating Contest will run from 1 to 1:30 p.m. It is hosted by the Kent Senior Activity Center with prizes to the fastest eaters. Participants can sign up near the stage.
Due to limited parking at Lake Meridian Park, free shuttles will run from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. from Fire Station 75 (15635 SE 272nd St.) and Kentwood High School (25800 164th Ave. SE).
Three musical groups will perform:
• The Party Gras Jazz Band – noon to 1 p.m. Led by local favorite, Bobby Medina, the band’s full sound will set the tone for a fun and festive afternoon.
• Speed Control – 1:30 to 3 p.m. Hailing from Canada’s North in the Yukon, and drawing on influences from Jimmy Eat World, Foo Fighters, The Barenaked Ladies, and Motley Crüe, Speed Control is 100% rock ‘n’ roll. Described as “Super tight, riff heavy, harmony rock,” they deliver a captivating sound with energy that leaves audiences smiling, singing, dancing and wanting more.
• The Suffers – 3:30 to 5 p.m. There is a contagious and combustible energy every time this eight-piece soul, funk, and R&B group from Houston, Texas steps on to the stage.