Grand opening celebration
Three area youths win essay contest held in conjunction with the Legends opening
The biggest splash from a Wednesday morning media gathering at the Legends of Village West shopping center had little to do with the unveiling of a new 60-foot, two-tiered water fountain.
Instead, it had everything to do with word that three local middle school students, two of whom hail from Tonganoxie and the other from Basehor, are winners of an essay contest to name Legendary Kansans.
The Kansans written about by the students will be displayed prominently inside the 750,000 square foot shopping center alongside 60 to 75 other famous pioneers, artists and innovators from the Sunflower State.
Emily Knapp, a seventh-grader at Basehor-Linwood Middle School; Andrea Jeannin, an eighth-grader at Tonganoxie Junior High; and Caitlin Teeters, an eighth-grader at Piper Middle School, were announced as winners.
The students were chosen as winners, shopping center developers said, based on their unique viewpoints on why their legends should be honored.
Knapp chose fictional character Dorothy Gale, the protagonist from the Wizard of Oz. Teters chose Edward Dwight Jr., the first African American trained as an astronaut, who later became a sculptor. His works are now on display at the Smithsonian.
Jeannin's choice was more personal. She won based on her written words about her brother-in-law, Army Cpl. Lucas A. Frantz of Tonganoxie, who was killed in action last October in Iraq. Frantz will be honored along with other fallen soldiers from the war in Iraq.
The students' achievement wasn't the only announcement by shopping center developers, who used Wednesday's gathering as a springboard for a grand opening at Legends on Saturday.
Amy Kraft, marketing director for the shopping center, announced 10 new businesses will be coming to Village West. The new business roster comprises a mix of restaurants and retailers.
"The Legends has created an exciting and diverse tenant lineup, satisfying every style, every age and every price range," Kraft said. She added, "We started with a blank canvas and created a destination that we felt Kansas City and the Midwest needed."
The new businesses are:
- Chili's Grill and Bar
- Verizon Wireless
- Taco Bueno
- Old Navy
- Gap Outlet
- Banana Republic Factory Outlet
- Motherhood Maternity
- Whole Life Healing Center
Developers also displayed the new fountain, nestled at the entrance of the shopping center, in front of the Legends 14 movie theater. The fountain, developed by engineers from WET Design, a company renowned for previous projects such as The Fountains of Bellagio in Las Vegas and the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Cauldron, features 54 nozzles, 36 sprays and is programmed to fire water displays twice every hour.
Legends' developers called the fountain an "iconic landmark" befitting of the Kansas City metropolitan area, dubbed by many as "The City of Fountains."
The Legends will host its grand opening Saturday, April 22. It will include a free concert by the Grammy-award winning band, The Counting Crows, and the openings of 25 to 30 new businesses.
For more information, visit the Web site, www.legendsshopping.com.