COLUMBIA — Diamond-shaped kites of neon nylon and plastic dotted the sky above the Douglass Park baseball diamond Saturday afternoon as kids ran about dodging kite strings.
“You would be surprised how many of them have never flown a kite before,” Parks and Recreation Department specialist Bill Thompson said. “It allows people to play and helps them remember what it feels like to play again.”
Thompson, who organized Kite Flying Day, said it was the 16th year for the annual event. Participants were provided with free kites from noon to 2 p.m. on Saturday.
“Some years there’s lots of wind and others none," Thompson said. "Fortunately, we have some good weather this year.”
MU student Anna Carlson volunteered by supervising kids and keeping kite strings untangled. Carlson was there as part of a service project with her Christian sorority, Sigma Phi Lambda. She said she wasn’t an experienced kite flier — the last time she flew one was when she was seven — but she said the activity was a good way to enjoy the spring sunshine.
“It gets kids outside and helps them spend time with their families,” Carlson said.
Three friends from Lange Middle School, Jordan Chapman, A.J. Gray and Mishee Gray, helped younger kite fliers by assembling kites. Although it was their first time at Kite Flying Day and Chapman’s first time flying a kite, they’re not strangers to Douglass Park. Mishee Gray said she comes out to the park almost every day.
They all said they plan to return next year and added that Douglass Park needs to have more events like Kite Flying Day.
“Columbia’s population is getting really big, and more people are driving by and seeing it,” Jordan said about the park. “I’ve never seen so many kids out here in my life.”
A.J. Gray said it was amazing that people of all ages were out enjoying the hobby.
“My little sister is six, and she was flying a kite today,” A. J. Gray said.
Squinting from under the shade of a nearby tree, Jordan watched as a purple and teal nylon butterfly plummeted to the ground.
“The kids can take their free kite home as a souvenir,” Jordan said. “And then when they get older and have kids, they can give them the kites and take them out here.”