It was a mile walk. Well, 0.9 miles exactly, if one plans to take the same walk I did, from the parking garage on the Country Club Plaza to Southmoreland Park. And what a beautiful day it was here in late June, for a brief walk through the City of Fountains. The rays of sunshine beat down on the pavement, leaving it warm below my feet, yet readily embraced the generous cool breeze that swooped down from the North. Every street here was doused with different types of people. The glamorous executives walked around in their sleek black suits, headed to a business dinner at McCormick and Schmick’s. Musicians and entertainers were found on each street corner: a teenage guitarist, a family choir, a fire breather and sword swallower. They were there to wow and share their talents, humbly accepting any monetary gift, even just an ear that listened or an eye that saw. And though I had not arrived at my destination, I had already seen several acts and scenes of life.
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What a beautiful sight it was to see, even if a street was sparse with people, life still danced in the water. I could feel it on my face, a cool relief against my newly freckled skin. The City of Fountains many called it, with more bubblers and water-spewing devices than any other city worldwide. Each fountain had its own unique design, a story only it possessed. There was certainly something magical about acrobatic water washed upon stone.
This was Kansas City, right smack dab in the middle of the heartland, a true hidden gem. Yet, there was something more specifically hidden in this bustling City, one of the most expressive elements of human creativity. At last, I had reached the boundary between the pouring sun and the cool shade of giant trees, stepping from warm pavement to the soft cushion of grass, pleasing my feet. I had arrived at Southmoreland Park, a little nook of nature tucked between the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art and the bustling downtown of Kansas City.
It was here that one of the most ancient forms of entertainment took place, theater. Not only was it a play I was to see, but a play written by one of the most renowned playwrights in history, William Shakespeare. “Welcome Darling! Will you be so kind as to give a donation on this beautiful day?” said an older man to me in a good old English accent. He motioned to his large woven basket, and gave me a big gentle smile. He had smiled often, and one could tell, because of the deep crinkles around his eyes. I gave him all the change I had and received an “Anti-Beggar” sticker that said I had donated to “Free Will”. I met up with my friends and chatted endlessly as we weaved our way through the abundance of blankets and chairs here at the outdoor theater.
While I sat upon my blanket, I breathed in the summer night’s air. I could hear the relaxed chatter among the hundreds of people who had come to see theater at its very finest. I could smell the aromas of the classy who brought wine, and those who happily settled with Chinese takeout. It was a timeless feel, this outdoor theater was, a form of entertainment used since ancient Greece and Rome.
The play was soon announced, and the bright stage lights softly dimmed. The show was about to begin. I had happily arrived at the annual Kansas City Shakespearean Festival, one of Kansas City’s true hidden gems.
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