1. You’re fiercely loyal to local ‘que and know your way around a grill.
Whether you claim allegiance to BBQ powerhouses Gates and Jack Stack, Missouri-side Arthur Bryant’s, Kansas-side Oklahoma Joe’s, or (my favorite) small-fry LC’s, you think of them when anyone mentions barbecue. Roll out the smoker and soak those wood chips — hot dogs and hamburgers just won’t cut it.
2. You’ve grown accustomed to crappy sports teams.
KC sports fans can’t catch a break. Anyone will tell you when we last won the big one: 1985. We beat our cross-state baseball rivals in what was dubbed the I-70 Series. But the Royals, god love them, haven’t made it to the postseason since.
And the Chiefs, who were competitive in the heady days of the early NFL and flirted with postseason success in recent years, have had an even longer drought. We won Super Bowl IV, more than four decades ago. Len Dawson, quarterback for our one Super Bowl win against the Vikings in 1969, covers sports for Channel 9 and still calls games on 101 The Fox — we’re all secretly hoping we can pull one out before he retires.
3. You know the Timberwolf is the most terrifying rollercoaster in the world.
It’s made of wood and goes way faster than any wooden machine should, jostling you around on the way up the big hill and rattling your teeth in your skull on the way down. You start to understand why people thought Model Ts would kill everyone. When not safely enveloped in plastic, steel, and fiberglass, anything that goes faster than 10mph feels like a death trap.
4. You’ve downed a Skyscraper Soda…and lived to tell about it.
Winstead’s — KC’s diner staple decked in ’40s pinks and blue-greens with chrome finishings — makes the Skyscraper Soda in a GIANT GLASS VASE. Piled high with vanilla and chocolate ice cream and topped off with soda, it’s practically a rite of childhood to split one with your siblings/cousins/neighbors, dueling with long-handled diner spoons and jockeying for position with the doubled-up long straws so you can gorge yourself until you want to puke.
5. You have a picture of you with the giant shuttlecocks.
Yes: 20ft-high replicas of white-feathered shuttlecocks dot the lawn of the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art. It’s said that the sculptors were drawn to feathers because of the local Native American heritage, but designed the shuttlecocks because from above, the museum grounds resemble a badminton lawn. Everyone has a picture of themselves next to one, behind one, even jumping in front of one. They’re a magnet for area brides, so during the summer watch out or you could photobomb a wedding party.
6. You’ve got nothing but love for the City of Fountains.
We’ve got more fountains per square mile than any city in the country and are second in the world only to Rome (so they say). After all, the Romans invented the Aqueduct, so we’ll let them take the top spot.
7. You know which Kansas City you’re from.
Most people in the Midwest know there are “two” Kansas Cities but lump them together as one. In KC itself, clear distinctions are made across State Line: 816 in Missouri and 913 in Kansas. But break it down further and you’ve got KCK, Johnson County, North Kansas City, Kansas City North, Brookside, Westport, Crossroads, Power & Light, 18th & Vine…the list goes on.
8. Every Thanksgiving, your family drags you out in the freezing cold to see the Plaza Lighting Ceremony.
Most people start the day watching a well-orchestrated stream of cartoon balloons, small-town marching bands, and teen dance squads parade down wide city avenues while preparing a traditional meal for sharing with family and friends. In Kansas City, though — after everyone has slept off the first in a season of excesses — we pile into the car and drive down to the plaza to jostle for a spot to see a local celebrity (Paul Rudd, Jason Sudeikis, and Kate Spade have all done the honors) flip the switch and light up the skyline.
9. You can hum the concession stand’s theme music at the I-70 drive-in.
One of the largest drive-in theaters still in operation, the I-70 drive-in’s neon arch marquee echoes its sister arch in St. Louis, announcing the four double features playing. Every screen plays the same vintage concession ads, with absurd dancing hot dogs, candy, and popcorn boxes that play on a loop with a minute countdown so you don’t miss any of the late-night feature.
10. You cringe when people say, “We’re not in Kansas anymore,” but you can’t imagine calling anywhere else home.
Dorothy knew exactly where she wanted to be and you can’t blame her. Fats Domino, Okkervil River, Van Morrison, even the Beatles sing about coming here. You might take a plane, you may take a train, but if you have to walk, you’re going just the same. Kansas City, here you come.
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