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For This Year's Springtime Ritual, Kansas City Leaders Celebrate Fountain's Pricey Makeover

Andrea Tudhope
KCUR 89.3
With renovations complete, city officials gathered at the Spirit of Freedom fountain Tuesday morning to kick off Kansas City's fountain season.

Singing "freedom is coming soon," members of the Paseo Academy choir serenaded a small crowd at the Spirit of Freedom fountain Tuesday morning. 

"There’s two things for me that signify springtime. One is opening day for the Royals, and the other is turning on the fountains in Kansas City," said Kansas City Parks and Recreation board commissioner Allen Dillingham.

Credit Anna Yakutenko / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
The Paseo Academy choir performed for a small crowd at Tuesday's Fountain Day ceremony.

Kansas City's official fountain season kicks off each year in the second week of April. This year's ceremony celebrated the completion of the Spirit of Freedom fountain's recent makeover.

The city spent $865,000 to upgrade the fountain, situated at Emanuel Cleaver II Boulevard and Cleveland Avenue, across Brush Creek from the Bruce R. Watkins Cultural Center.

A majority of that funding came from the $800 million infrastructure bond package, or GO bonds, Kansas City, Missouri, voters approved in April 2017. City Manager Troy Schulte said he made a promise to voters last year that one of the first things he'd do was make sure all of the city's 200-some fountains were up and running.

Credit Anna Yakutenko / KCUR 89.3
KCUR 89.3
Kansas City Manager Troy Schulte explained that the GO bonds voters approved in 2017 were responsible for the renovation of the Spirit of Freedom fountain.

"I'm pleased to stand here today saying this one, and another one is under construction, and all of our fountains in this beautiful city will be running the way citizens deserve," Schulte said.

The Delbert J. Haff fountain near Swope Park is still under construction.  

The renovation of the Spirit of Freedom fountain involved replacing water pumps, piping and lights, and removing and polishing the 5,000-pound metal sculpture that sits on top of the fountain, which City Councilman Jermaine Reed pointed out is an abstract homage to Kansas City jazz and the history of the city.

"And it also is a reflection of those African-Americans in our community who paid significant contributions to our city," Reed said.

Andrea Tudhope is a reporter for KCUR 89.3. Follow her on Twitter @_tudhope.

Andrea Tudhope is an award-winning multimedia journalist based in Kansas City, Missouri. She is currently coordinating producer for America Amplified, a national public media community engagement initiative funded by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting. 
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