PRAIRIE VILLAGE, Kan. — A staple in the Prairie Village community will look different this Fourth of July due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The 25th annual VillageFest will be called VillageFest to-go this year.
City leaders had to decide what the event would look like this year during the winter. Meghan Buum, assistant city administrator, said the VillageFest committee decided to go with a drive-thru version of the event like last year.
"We tried to gauge the pulse of the community and the status of public health at the time," Buum said, "and, unfortunately, when we were starting to put contracts in place in December and January it was really hard to predict what July would look like."
The festival normally draws thousand of people to the area for a day of bounce houses, food trucks and a petting zoo. The city is asking families to decorate their cars and drive through the municipal campus at 7700 Mission Road from 10 a.m. to noon Sunday.
"We are giving away Fourth of July-themed goody bags to the community, and they will have lots of different surprises in them," Buum said. "Our Prairie Village Police Department is participating, the consolidated fire district in North East Johnson County is participating and then we will have lots of other surprises as well."
Buum said the city realizes most of the festival's patrons are children 12 years old and younger, who are not yet eligible to be vaccinated.
"We hope that they will still be able to have a little bit of fun on the Fourth of July, and we will be able to make it feel festive in some way for them," Buum said.
And as families across the metro put their holiday plans together, doctors are encouraging them to stay vigilant.
Dr. Sarah Boyd, infectious disease physician at Saint Luke's Health System, recommended that families consider what kind of crowd they'll be around and whether or not everyone will be vaccinated.
"What’s the spacing like, is it outdoors or indoors and really paying attention to those things that might be riskier, especially with the Delta variant around and a significant portion of Missourians still not vaccinated," Boyd said.
Boyd also recommended that children who are not yet vaccinated continue to wear masks, especially in crowds where they can't social distance.
Boyd said the Delta variant is known for spreading easier and faster than others. She hopes anyone not yet vaccinated who can be will consider it.
"We are at a point in the summer holidays where with a significant amount of Delta variant in Missouri we could see rapid spread particularly among people who are unvaccinated," Boyd said.