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'It does feel very normal': Residents excited to celebrate Labor Day as events kick off across Kansas City

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Posted at 5:45 PM, Sep 02, 2022
and last updated 2022-09-15 13:47:58-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — This holiday weekend, thousands of people will gather at several large events like First Fridays, the KC Air Show, Irish Fest and SantaCaliGon Days Festival.

Those in attendance say they’re not hesitant about COVID-19 and admit it feels the events recreate a pre-pandemic atmosphere.

“I think it’s going to be a really great year. I think people are ready to get back out,” Amy Knipp, director for the SantaCaliGon Days Festival, said. “It does feel very normal, it just feels normal.”

Ashton Schaffer traveled from St. Joseph to attend SantiCaliGon Days in Independence, Missouri.

“We’re normalizing it," Schaffer said.

Knipp expects 300,000 people to attend the festival over four days.

That is great news for Eric Aasmundstad, the owner of Lone Tree Designs. He sells metal lawn art at festivals like SantaCaliGon.

“I would say we’re 95% back from COVID. I don’t know if we’ll ever be all the way back to the way it was," he said. "People just live differently. That’s probably not a bad thing. As far as being able to get out and do business and meet the people, it’s back."

Irish Fest takes place across from Crown Center in Kansas City, Missouri. Business owners in the mall expect the festival to generate sales for them like in pre-pandemic years.

At Function Junction, owner Mary Merola believes the festival will help her business this weekend.

“We talk about people maybe being a little hesitant to travel this summer, now you don’t have to go very far to have a really good time on Labor Day weekend,” Merola said.

John Sheridan, of Sheridan’s Frozen Custard, agrees. He expects such big crowds he added booths inside Irish Fest to compliment his location inside Crown Center.

“It’s going to be great,” he said. “The numbers are great, the hotels are full, sales are excellent. We’re looking for a big crowd here. Weather is going to be super. It’s the place to be in Kansas City this weekend.”

Doctors from the University of Kansas Health System say part of the reason we feel normal is because we have the tools to fight back against COVID.

Doctors encourage everyone to get a vaccine and booster.

“COVID is real, it’s still real, and we know how to stay safe from it," Dr. Steven Stites, chief medical officer at the KU Health System said. "The good news is the numbers are dropping around the country."

The Mid-America Regional Council’s dashboard shows a steady decline in the number of new COVID-19 cases across the metropolitan area throughout most of August.

A list of events this weekend: