Party in a parking garage Saturday for Wichita’s 148th birthday

A change in Wichita city ordinance has cleared the way for alcohol in public garages, including Saturday's LevelUP celebration of the city's 148th birthday to be held in this parking garage on Market Street.
A change in Wichita city ordinance has cleared the way for alcohol in public garages, including Saturday's LevelUP celebration of the city's 148th birthday to be held in this parking garage on Market Street. File photo

No one hopes to be in a Wichita parking garage all day long. This Saturday, you’ll want to.

LevelUP — a nine-floor, dual-spiraled, 435-space curated showcase of Wichita — is happening Saturday on the city’s 148th birthday.

The family-friendly event is at the Sutton Place parking garage at 215 S. Market from 2-11 p.m.

Admission is free.

Guests will walk through the levels of the garage — each with a different theme — and end the night on the rooftop with a live DJ, drinks and a view of downtown Wichita.

Activities include shopping, live music, interactive experiences, food and craft beer. For Janelle King, owner of The Workroom and organizer of LevelUP, it has been a long time coming.

The idea that would eventually turn into LevelUP began last April through the Up The Ambition project with the Wichita Community Foundation.

King said the foundation took a hand-selected group of leaders on a two-day retreat to discuss how to activate and inspire. The leaders were then challenged to present ideas that do just that.

“We received a kickstarter grant for the idea of LevelUP, and it has been now almost a year-and-a-half long process,” King said. “Part of that is because it is city property, as well as the fact that we were the first people in the city of Wichita to apply for the common consumption permit, which allows multiple alcohol licensees to sell in an open area together.”

Section 4.04.045 of Wichita’s city code was amended in June to allow certain public property to be exempt from prohibition of alcohol consumption.

On top of the lengthy process with the city was the overwhelming response from the community, King said.

Back in February, King created a Facebook event as a placeholder. “Within 24 hours we had over 2,000 people interested in it,” King said. “But it just took us a lot by surprise.”

As of Tuesday, King said the event has more than 6,500 people on Facebook saying they are interested in going.

“There is literally no paid advertising,” King said. “It just caught steam.”

That also means the scale of the event has compounded.

“We’ve now raised an additional $25,000 on top of the grant,” she said. “It’s all nonprofit, it’s all volunteers.”

The garage party didn’t start out as a birthday celebration for the city, though.

King said the initial date for the event was supposed to be July 28, but the parking garage had another event that weekend so they decided to move it up one week, and when they noticed it was the city’s birthday that day, “it was an awesome coincidence.”

LevelUP is already on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat.

Soon, the event will have its own mobile app.

“The idea of the event is that this garage is kind of curvy and has different levels,” King said. “Anywhere you stand in the garage you don’t have good visibility of anything else and every time you go around the corner you see something you weren’t expecting.”

Attendees will be encouraged to download the app, which will have maps and will ping guests when certain events are about to happen and tell them what floor they need to be on.

As over a year of preparation comes to an end, King said some aspects of the event are still up in the air.

“Sound in particular is one thing,” King said. “I’ve got musicians and performers all throughout the garage, and we won’t even have access to electricity until the morning of the event. We’re just going off of instinct and hoping it goes well.”

From rooftop yoga to busking, LevelUP has activities for everybody. Guests can participate in volunteer projects, check out handmade glass art jewelry, sip on local brews, partake in a cupcake contest and more.

One of the event’s sponsors, Super Car Guys, is hosting the first-ever Wichita’s Incredible Race, where teams of two compete in a week-long series of events and activities across Wichita.

The race began on July 14 and ends Saturday at LevelUP, where the winners of the race will receive a red Jeep Sport Wrangler. According to Super Car Guys, the car will be in both winner’s names, so what they do with the car after the event is up to them.

King said there are still opportunities for potential sponsors.

“We’re never going to say no to applications for sponsorships,” King said. “We’re always asking ourselves how we can still help build that recognition for them.”

Sponsorship information is available here.

King said throughout the nine-hour event, guests can come and go, exploring downtown Wichita as well as LevelUP.

“Maybe head downtown and grab some dinner then come back to catch a later entertainer’s show,” King said. “Leave the cars at home and take the trolley. There are tons of options.”

“Quite honestly, no two people’s experience could possibly the same.”

Wichita’s 148th birthday weekend


When: Saturday, 2-11 p.m.

Where: 215 S. Market

What: A celebration of Wichita featuring live music, food and drink vendors, local shops, entertainment and more.

Cost: Free

Art Towne

Where: 122 N. 1st Ave., Mulvane, KS

When: Friday, 7-9 p.m.

What: Paint a Wichita flag and a Keeper of the Plains. Bring your own food and drink, alcoholic beverages are welcome.

Cost: $35

KU School of Medicine - Wichita

Where: 1010 N. Kansas, southwest main entrance to the school building.

When: Friday, 10 a.m.

What: Dean Garold Minns and Mayor Jeff Longwell will raise a new Wichita flag on the campus flagpole and unveil another popular Wichita icon.

Cost: Free

Sedgwick County Historical Museum

Where: 204 S. Main

When: Saturday, 1-5 p.m.

What: View Wichita’s history and enjoy special tours, crafts, activities and refreshments.

Cost: Free to individuals and small groups bringing a birthday card.

Osage Park Splash Party

Where: 2121 W. 31st St. South

When: Saturday, 1-3:30 p.m.

What: Cool off with an inflatable water slide, squirt gun games, a duck pond, relays and a big water gun/water balloon battle. Guests must bring their own water guns.

Cost: Free

You’re a Keeper Cookie Workshop

Where: Mark Arts, 1307 N. Rock Road

When: Saturday, noon-1 p.m.

What: Learn the tricks, tips and techniques of cookie decorating with Wichita-themed sugar cookies. Students will get to keep six Wichita-inspired decorated sugar cookies, recipes and a take-home cookie decorating goody bag.

Cost: $50. All supplies are included in the cost of the class.

Wichitawesome Birthday Bash at Lucinda’s

Where: 329 N. Mead St.

When: Saturday, 10 a.m.-11 p.m.

What: 20 percent off all Wichita items, a drawing for a set of four Wichita pint glasses, meet the creator of the Hazelwood Art Studio and enjoy treats and drinks from 6-9 p.m.

Cost: Free

Wichita Art Museum’s 83rd Birthday Bash

Where: 1400 Museum Blvd.

When: Saturday, 1-3 p.m.

What: An old-fashioned ice cream social featuring Hiland Dairy ice cream, toppings by the Nifty Nut House. Live music by the Wichita Steel Drum Band.

Cost: Free ice cream and admission to the museum.

Artistic Cakes

Where: 8985 W. Central

When: Saturday, 9 a.m.-3 p.m.

What: Like Artistic Cakes on Facebook and then come in for a free cupcake and enter to win $100 in store credit.

Cost: Free

Old Town Farmer’s Market

Where: First and Mosley

When: Saturday, 7 a.m.-12 p.m.

What: Shop local for farmer’s market favorites like fresh fruits and vegetables, handcrafted items, artisan foods, flowers and more. Farm-to-Table brunch menu from 8 a.m.-noon at In Season Bistro, 9-10 a.m. free yoga session, 10 a.m.-12 p.m. live music by The Calm.

Cost: Free admission

Genesis Health Clubs

Where: 854 N. Socora and 1551 N. Rock Road

When: Saturday, 9 a.m. (West Central location) and 10 a.m. (Rock Road location)

What: Celebrate Wichita’s birthday with a boot camp workout, followed by an employee tennis tournament where the audience can throw water balloons at the players.

Cost: Free to both members and nonmembers

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