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Parade of Hearts display unites community, celebrates KC

'It’s so important to lift people's spirits and remind people that there are good reasons to come together'
parade of hearts event.png
Posted at 11:40 AM, Apr 14, 2024

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The third annual Parade of Hearts display was open to the public Saturday, April 13.

Since 2022, these 5-foot heart sculptures have popped up across Kansas City. Starting this year, they will also be stationed in the surrounding area — Wyandotte County, Johnson County, Independence, Blue Springs and De Soto.

The initial idea was to display the hearts every other year, but after the popularity in 2022, and noteworthy events like the 2023 NFL Draft, the event took place on a smaller scale last year with 40 hearts.

This year, 100 hearts were displayed at the American Royal for community members to peruse before they’re dropped around the city Monday.

“We like finding them out in the city, but sometimes we don’t make it to all of them, so this was a great place to see all of them,” said Astra Garner, who went with her two daughters, Aria and Amaeris.

The variety of designs showcases KC's most prized qualities.

“I like all the fountains and art it has and all the nice people, the festivals and different types of cultures; I just love it here,” Amaeris Garner said.

Parade of Hearts leadership said more than 3,000 pre-sale tickets were sold. The goal was to have at least 5,000 at Saturday’s event.

“It’s just an amazing way that just brings the community together, and everyone’s looking for some way to connect,” said LaVon Colhour, member of the Parade of Hearts team.

The event, which organizers said was meant to uplift the city and promote unity, falls two months after the Feb. 14 rally shooting.

“We had the healing heart back in March that was at Union Station where it was an interactive heart, so the community got to come out for a couple of days and actually write a positive message on a heart sticker and stick those stickers on a heart,” Colhour said.

Colhour said as the city continues to process the tragedy, the desire to connect is stronger than ever.

“Not just after the Super Bowl parade, but the last few years, violence has increased in Kansas City, and this is something we hope will stay a positive event and continue to bring our community together,” Colhour said.

Since the shooting, artwork has been crucial to the community in processing its grief, whether it’s painting, making bracelets or writing music. The celebration of art Saturday was a further reminder that positive, celebratory events are possible.

“It’s so important to lift people’s spirits and remind people that there are good reasons to come together and such great things going on in the city,” said Tara Karaim, an artist who designed a barbecue-themed heart.

Other artists, like Laura Crossley, incorporated technology into their artwork.

“This heart is inspired by the women-owned businesses of Kansas City,” Crossley said. “It incorporates some digital technology behind the scenes that links to profiles of these women-owned businesses while you’re visiting and interacting with the heart.”

In all, artists and visitors alike said the event displayed the "bright side of Kansas City."

To get "back on track" with the every-other-year schedule, the Parade of Hearts will go dark in 2025. But in 2026, the initiative will return with "big things" and a slightly different design, Colhour said.