Hometown Pride

Hometown pride is a funny thing, especially if you’re from Kansas City. You see, hometown pride is still kind of a new concept to many of us in the metro. Growing up, all you heard about was how people wanted to get out of Kansas City, or Kansas, or Missouri when they graduated high school. But, somewhere along the way, we became proud of Kansas City. Something changed.

When you travel to other places and you’re from the Midwest, you receive all sorts of comments. People have interesting ideas of what Missouri and Kansas are like. Some of them are true. Most of them aren’t. The coasts, the ocean and the bigger cities have their allure. What do we have here? We’re “flyover country.” Corn fields. The Wizard of Oz (I even got this reference from a person I met while in Tokyo!). Tornadoes. That’s what they assume. But I can tell you that we have so much more. (Also, try explaining to people that Kansas City spans two states. You’ll blow their minds.)

Kansas City is both large and small at the same time. We have tons of amenities, restaurants and a sprinkling of professional sports teams. But, it’s also relatively inexpensive to live here, though I will admit that this is changing. The people here are friendly. They smile at you on the street. I regularly have conversations in elevators with perfect strangers. I regularly see people I know at concerts, sporting events, at the farmer’s market and more.

When I was a kid, downtown wasn’t a place you went. No one hung out down there. After five p.m., it was deserted. Twenty-five years later, it’s completely different. We live near downtown and my fiancé and I hang out there regularly. There are people around. There are businesses, restaurants, and shopping. We have a streetcar that I hope will continue to grow. We’re slowly getting a new airport (finally!).

I can’t tell you exactly when or why the feelings about being from Kansas City shifted. I just know it happened. Maybe it’s because our downtown has been revitalized. Maybe it’s because our sports teams have been doing well. The Royals won the World Series in 2015. The Chiefs were major contenders in the NFL last season and likely will be again this season. We have an MVP quarterback after all (#Mahomes!). Maybe it’s because of the Etsy movement and the popularity of homemade goods is still en vogue and people have reconnected with their Kansas City roots. All of these are possibilities. No matter the reason, the evidence is right in front of you. We have a foodie scene. We have an arts scene. National Geographic named us one of their top travel destinations for 2019! Locals wear Charlie Hustle KC gear all the time (popularized by one of our hometown heroes Paul Rudd. How many are in my closet? I have 4!).

I think the pinnacle point of evidence for the change in the mentality around Kansas City is on television. The most recent season of Queer Eye takes place here and to me, that’s still quite a shock. Knowing that the Fab 5 holed up in a fabulous downtown loft (that’s only 5 minutes from my house!) for 5 months and publicized their adventures helping and making people over to the world is amazing – and absolutely thrilling. And there are rumors that season four will also feature my beloved Midwestern city! My fiancé and I love to sit down and watch episodes of the Kansas City season and I have to tell you, every time I see the intro with the flyover of downtown and Union Station, my heart swells for my medium-sized Midwestern metropolis. I imagine thousands or maybe even millions of people seeing it and thinking ‘Oh. So that’s Kansas City.’ We’ve come so far.

Thinking ahead to our wedding this fall, I’m also really excited to play hostess to all of our out-of-town friends and family. One of my favorite pages on our website is the one titled Explore Our Kansas City and lists two dozen restaurants, museums and other activities as suggestions for ways our guests can spend their time here. My fiancé is from the east coast and many of his friends and family have never been to KC. Or if they have, they were here for a couple of days. Both of us are so excited to share all of our favorite restaurants and activities with them and to share what is such a big part of our lives.

Maybe I’m just becoming overly sentimental in my mid-thirties, or perhaps everything has taken on a greater significance since getting engaged, but my hometown pride is at an all-time high. Kansas City is the only place I have ever been that feels like home (though I do plan to retire to the beach. No more winter for me!) and though my family keeps moving to other places, this is my home. I hope you’ll come enjoy it sometime!

Photo by ANDREW PETERSON from Pexels