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A Missouri water park is facing backlash after a viral video showing the park canceling a Black family’s pool party for feeling “uncomfortable”.
The video starts with Chris Evans, the father of the 17-year-old teen the birthday party was for, stopped at the entrance of the water park with a staff member and police officer. Evans is surrounded by roughly 20 Black teens waiting to get into the park for his son’s birthday party.
There is some back and forth between Evans and park staff that is inaudible before Evans is heard asking the staff member “because you’re uncomfortable?”
Summit Waves Aquatic Facility claimed they were unable to reach the family in advance of the Saturday evening party, but had “serious concerns about the safety of party guests and the possibility the event would grow beyond the capacity of staff,” according to a news release.
Summit Waves staff said they became aware of social media posts advertising the birthday party, which caused them to cancel the event.
At a press conference Tuesday, Evans spoke to media telling them that his “family was racially profiled against and discriminated against by the city of Lee’s Summit’s parks and rec department.”
Evans stated that his child and friends showed up to the Missouri water park Saturday evening and were not allowed in by a staff member and told the party had been canceled with no explanation why.
“My wife and I called Lee’s Summit Waves on the way to the water park and spoke to an employee who told me that ‘this event doesn’t represent Lee’s Summit Waves,’ and that my reservation was canceled because she was uncomfortable,” Evans said next to his wife and attorney.
City-owned water park in Missouri faces accusations of racial discrimination
Lee’s Summit Waves staff claim that about 500 teens arrived at Summit Waves that evening, which Evans claims is not true.
When Evans arrived at the water park, he was met out front with a staff member named Grace and multiple police officers who Grace said is “here for me,” with a smile on her face.
The family asked staff at the Missouri water park why their 250 swimmers were not allowed to enter the park because “250 people is what we paid for,” said Evans’ wife, even informing staff that they had paid for additional security and worked with local police to ensure the party’s safety.
Grace said that LSP reserves the right to cancel any event at any time if they’d like, apparently including at the time of guest’s arrival.
A Summit Waves employee made “inappropriate and insensitive” comments on social media following the incident, said Lee’s Summit Mayor William Baird.
“The comments were appalling and not condoned by Parks and Recreation, and are inconsistent with the culture I know the city of Lee’s Summit strives to reflect.”
Mayor Baird said an investigation of the incident is underway.
The Missouri water park offers party rentals of its entire facility for groups ranging from 1-100, 101-250, and 251-1,400 people according to the park’s website.