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Kites Over Grinnell promises high-flying fun

Contributed photo
Contributed photo
Contributed photo

By Keli Vitaioli

Fun is flying to new heights this weekend with the Grinnell Rotary Club’s rebooting of a past favorite, Kites Over Grinnell, on Sat., Sept. 24 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Ahrens Park driving range.

The family-focused event will offer a full day of kite flying. When the park opens, there will be 200 kites available for participants to put together and decorate at the park. The Rotary Club also purchased kites for the Grinnell Community School District’s kindergarten through fourth grade students and the Ahrens Park pre-school for children to decorate in advance.

“Leon Drake, the art teacher for Grinnell [Community School District] got all the kites, and he is letting the kids color the skins of them,” said Bruce Blankenfeld, Grinnell Rotary Club secretary and coordinator of Kites Over Grinnell this year.  “Then they put the kites together, and they’ll be all ready to go to fly the kites on Saturday.”

Kites Over Grinnell has run previously in the early 2000s, but has been missing from the community for a few years. The decision to bring the event back came when Dick and Sis Vogel, who previously ran the event, came to a Rotary Club meeting to proffer the idea, which was met with excitement by some members.

Dick and Sis Vogel previously ran the event the last two years it appeared and they wanted it to start back up.

“Bob Riley, who I believe is 89, was talking about when he was a little kid, and he remembered flying kites and winning ribbons,” Blankenfeld said. “Next week, he brought in his ribbons from when he was five or six years old.” 

The Rotary Club is also bringing in American Kite Association (AKA) flyers who will have their own sectioned off portion of the driving range where they will be demonstrating their skills. Visitors are welcome to come and go as they please, and Blankenfeld wants to emphasize the free fun for all that will be had. The Rotary Club will be selling hot dogs, hamburgers, chips and pop. Another vendor will be selling cotton candy and popcorn as well.

“I’m hoping that [people] just come out and fly a kite and just have a great time with their kids or grandkids,” Blankenfeld said. “Everyone is going to be a winner that day. I’ve got some kite ribbons for everybody to win, so whatever little kid flies a kite is going to win a ribbon.”

The Rotary Club began planning for the event six months ago, and will begin even earlier next year if the event is met with a positive response from the community since the AKA are booked a year in advance.

“This is our first year, so we’re just keeping it small and trying to see if this is something the city wants to have again,” Blankenfeld said.

Students from Grinnell College Swimming and Diving will be assisting in the running of the event alongside former Rotary Club President Professor Heriberto Hernandez, Chemistry, who has been a Rotarian for six years and was involved in the decision to bring back Kites Over Grinnell.

The Grinnell Rotary Club was founded in 1938 and prides itself on promoting and providing service in the community. Their main project has been participating in the cross-club Rotary fight to end Polio worldwide, for every dollar the Rotary club raises towards that goal, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation matches that each dollar of the donation with two dollars.

Other Rotary Club projects in the community include sponsoring exchange programs and providing four or five students from Grinnell High School with 500 dollar college scholarships annually. 

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