COLUMBIA — Computer programmer Jon Gabrielson didn't having much luck keeping his kite in the air on Saturday afternoon.
The 31-year-old's oversized red kite got tangled high in a tree at Douglass Park, and he had to climb up the old branches to free it.
He said he wasn’t scared, though he was a little worried the branches might be dead. He climbed down safely just before the arrival of pizza that he and his computer programmer friends David Hagler, 28, and Jeremy Carman, 26, had ordered.
Families and computer programmers alike participated in Columbia Parks and Recreation’s Kite Flying Day on Saturday afternoon.
The annual event drew about 50 adults and children and awarded children for the highest flying kite, the largest flying kite and the smallest flying kite.
Parks and Recreation Recreation Supervisor Camren Cross said this is his sixth year organizing the event.
“It’s a low-cost, easy activity for families to do,” he said.
MJ Kwak said her and her husband, Sichan Park, brought their 4-year-old daughter Nari to the park to have a good experience before their second child, due in a week, is born.
“I want her to have lots of fun with mom before the baby is born,” Kwak said.
Amanda Crites purchased a small butterfly kite for her 3-year-old daughter Malia before the event in hopes of winning the smallest flying kite category. The kite was less than two inches long and won.
Andrea Shelton, Columbia Public Works volunteer program coordinator, brought her daughter Alexa and her boyfriend’s daughters, Mackenzie and Ashley Edwards, soon before the event ended.
Ashley, 14, had trouble putting her kite together. Her 6-year-old sister dragged her kite across the dandelion-speckled lawn, occasionally lifting it into the air for a few yards before it descended back to the grass.
“It looked really fun and easy, but I guess it’s not that easy,” said Ashley, who had flown a kite only once before.
Cross said the event gets kids outside and away from their video games and phones.
“It takes care of itself,” Cross said. “You just buy kites and put them in their hands.”