Kansas City braces for throngs of fans at Chiefs parade
KANSAS CITY, Missouri — Hundreds of thousands are expected to flood downtown Kansas City on Wednesday despite a predicted winter storm as the triumphant Chiefs bring home a Super Bowl trophy for the first time in 50 years.
Several schools in the area canceled classes, freeing up buses to haul fans to the celebration of the team’s come-from-behind 31-20 win against San Francisco.
“This is a celebration that is a long time in the making,”said Mayor Quinton Lucas during a news conference Tuesday in which he also urged fans to “bundle up” as forecasters called for 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 centimeters) of snow along the route.
City staff that aren’t involved in public safety or other essential services will be freed of their duties to watch the parade, which starts at 11:30 a.m. and ends with a rally in front of the city’s Union Station.
Meanwhile, the Kansas Legislature canceled that day’s session, while lawmakers in Missouri planned a light workday. Many businesses in the area also made plans to close or operate on a reduced schedule. At Children’s Mercy Kansas City, the emergency room at the main downtown hospital will be open, but appointments and some surgeries were being rescheduled or moved.
When the Royals won the World Series in 2015, an estimated 800,000 people flocked to the victory parade, shattering expectations in a city with a population of about 470,000 and a metropolitan area of about 2 million. Cellphone towers were overwhelmed by the throngs, and motorists began parking along side of the interstate and walking as exits jammed.
The city has learned from that experience and is making adjustments, adding a temporary cell tower and increasing the number of portable toilets to 700 from 200. Officials also are boosting the number of lost child stations — something that was deemed crucial after about 100 youngsters became separated from their caretakers in 2015.
The city will again provide free shuttles, but will drop parade-goers further from the route to prevent buses from becoming trapped in traffic as happened during the Royals parade.
Kansas City police Major Chip Huth said law enforcement from 19 surrounding agencies will help to provide security for the masses.
“The main thing we have learned,” he said, “is that we need to be ahead of the response.”
The weather will make it particularly difficult getting home, warned National Weather Service meteorologist Jimmy Barham. He said the snowfall will start at relatively light and will be at its heaviest during the rally, falling at a rate of half an inch (1.2 centimeters) an hour.
“One of our messages is it probably won’t be bad getting to the parade but there will be hazardous conditions leaving the parade,” Barham said.
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