The Scarlet & Black

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The Scarlet & Black

The Scarlet & Black

Kites to fly over Grinnell

On the evening of Friday, May 8 hundreds of people are expected to participate in the annual “Kites Over Grinnell” Festival, an eight-year tradition of kite flying and local entertainment.

“People of all ages and kite flying experience will how up,” said director Sis Vogel. “Expect to see experienced kite flyers from all over the country visit Grinnell to fly their kites.”

During the weekend of May 8, stores in dowtown Grinnell along 4th Avenue and Main Street will be open for longer hours to cater to visitors interests. The Too Many Strings band will perform in front of various Grinnell restaurants, such as Godfather›’s Pizza and Bourbon Street.

Saturday and Sunday›s events will begin in the morning, with people gathering in the local driving range to fly commercial and home-made kites. There will also be sport kite flyers flying 100 to 150-foot-long “Megakites” in the sky, including a giant octopus kite.

The influx of visitors during the three-day event will infuse capital into the Grinnell economy. Visitors are expected to crowd hotels, restaurants, stores and other vendors.

“Over 30 hotel rooms have already been booked,” Vogel said.

Saturday morning›s activities begin with a breakfast at the Ahrens Family Center prepared by the Grinnell Optimism Club. This year, in additon to the breakfast, there will be free hot air balloon rides, sponsored by the Grinnell Kiwanis Club.

“This is the first time we›ll be having hot-air balloon rides,” said the Kiwanis Club Treasurer Orlan Mitchell ‘55.
“We bought it for attraction and so that there is something for others to do instead of just watching kites.”

This is not the first time the Kiwanis Club took involvement in the festival. Eight years ago, the Kiwanis Club founded the kite festival along with Presbyterian Reverend Daniel Ogata as a way to provide a time and opportunity to just fly kites.

“It is a nice sight,” Mitchell said. “Once it got started, kids and parents were everywhere, just relaxing and flying kites.”

The Kiwanis Club, along with many local rotary and public service oriented groups, sponsors the festival each year. Local banks, stores, and individuals help fund the fest.

“There shouldn›t be any problem this weekend,” assured Vogel. “The only thing that could go wrong is the weather. In the past, we›ve always had a window of good weather when people would fly beautiful kites.”
However, many kite enthusiasts remain undeterred by any threat of poor weather . “Some people fly kites in any weather—as long as there isn›t lightning. No one wants to repeat Ben Franklin,” laughed Vogel.

In case of rain, kite flyers will gather at the Grinnell Athletic Recreation Center (GARC) where indoor kite flying will be available.

The organizers of the event hope that Grinnell College students will attend the festival as well. “We would love for students to come,” Vogel said. “They are welcome to join us and do whatever activity they want.”

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