It was 10 o’clock in the morning on Friday, May 6. Anxious citizens, excited children and even Mayor Sly James himself were all at Union Station in anticipation of one thing – the opening of the Kansas City Streetcar. Here’s the story of our unforgettable experience.
We sat among the crowd in the hot KC sun and listened to the opening remarks from Tom Gerend, Executive Director of KCSA. “It is my absolute pleasure to welcome you to what will be truly a historic day in our city’s history as we usher in a new era for our downtown.” The crowd erupted in applause. After years of development and what felt like even more years of being patient, it was finally time to ride the KC Streetcar. Mayor Sly James selected some lucky Kansas Citians to accompany him on the Streetcar’s first ride. Following an electric performance from the Python Drill Team, at 10:48 a.m., away they went. The KC Streetcar was officially open for business.
We joined the line shortly after the first Streetcar left the station. It felt like waiting in line at Walt Disney World but without the Fast Passes. Maybe those will come along in the future. (KC Chamber, you’re welcome to use that idea.) At 11:34 a.m., we hopped on board. We found our seats in the fifth KC Streetcar to ever leave Union Station. We may have waited close to an hour in that warm sun, but it was a surreal feeling to be a part of history. At 11:38 a.m., we were off, and there was no looking back.
“Wow,” a woman said. “This is so cool,” a man said. “I love this,” another woman said. We were a group of Kansas Citians experiencing the Streetcar for the very first time, and we were experiencing it together.
Each stop only took mere minutes to get to, and by 12:06 p.m., we were passing City Market at 5th & Walnut. What started off as a quiet ride had now expanded with over 100 people on board and conversations abound. It was hard to hear yourself think. But that’s the beauty of this Streetcar and of Kansas City. In New York City, the conversations heard on the subway are minimal. In London, the citizens on the tube are silent. Not in Kansas City. This Streetcar was made for the people of KC, and they were loving it. Strangers spoke with other strangers. Children played with other children. The people of Kansas City were connecting with one another, and it was all because of the KC Streetcar.
At 12:23 p.m., we finished the loop and arrived back at Union Station. We all exited the Streetcar together and went our separate ways. We may have been squished together. We may have bumped into each other when the Streetcar made its sudden stops. We may have made a lot of awkward eye contact. But we were all a part of history, and that is definitely something worth celebrating.