Discovery officials: On with show

By Burk Krohe

Officials at the Flint Hills Discovery Center aren’t going to let severe weather rain on their parade.

The Discovery Center, a $24.5 million interactive museum focusing on the history and preservation of the Flint Hills region, will have its grand opening Saturday at 10 a.m. Weather forecasts are predicting rain in the area and severe storms west of Manhattan.

Melissa Kirkwood, Discovery Center development officer, said the center is ready for bad weather, but hopes it will hold for the start of the ceremony Saturday morning. Kirkwood said as of Friday afternoon, the plan is still to carry on the ceremony and activities in front of the center and in Blue Earth Plaza. She said if there are scattered showers or drizzle, the center will most likely continue through it, noting there will be tents for some of the activities so attendees can take shelter.

“Plan B is moving all of that inside of the Discovery Center,” Kirkwood said. “We’re trying to make that call as late as we can.”

The weather and Discovery Center opening may also affect merchants downtown, with indication that the expected large crowd was prompting discussion about expanded store hours or services. Dave Colburn, manager of the Pathfinder, faces particular challenges since in addition to the grand opening, there are two major bike events on Saturday.

The shop is running a spring sale, but Colburn said it wasn’t intentionally coordinated with the Discovery Center’s opening.

“When we planned the sale, I’d be lying if I said we included the Discovery Center in our planning,” Colburn said. “It’s kind of a happy coincidence for us that, that’s happening.”

As for as increased business or foot traffic due to the Discovery Center, Colburn said it really depends on how nice it is outside.

“For us weather is no. 1,” Colburn said. “We’re hoping for a really big day, the weather has been good, there’s going to be a lot of people in town.”

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