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Columbia residents celebrate spring at parks, market despite clouds, wind

Saturday, April 6, 2013 | 7:08 p.m. CDT
Saturday morning was the first day of the year that the Columbia Farmers' Market was held outside. Customers, vendors and entertainment filled the area outside the Activity and Recreation Center.

COLUMBIA — Residents have taken advantage of the warm weather outside during April's first weekend.

Fighting the wind

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The cloudy, windy Saturday morning did nothing to deter residents from visiting the Columbia Farmers' Market on the first weekend back at its outside location next to the Activity and Recreation Center.

Dave Dittmer, a forester with Columbia Parks and Recreation, was helping pass out free young trees and shrubs to celebrate Arbor Day, a holiday that encourages people to care for trees. 

"We'll get here, and people get really excited about it," Dittmer said. "If there's a little old lady waiting for her dogwood half an hour before we open, you kind of have to say, 'Sure, give it to her.' We appreciate how supportive the community is."

The tree giveaway was perched away from the rest of the farmers market, where the wind whipped around white vendors tents. The market mainly offered plants for growing, but there was also a sprinkle of bread bakers, soap sellers and farmers market staples such as Missouri Legacy Beef.

Couples weaved up and down the aisle of tents. Three elderly women plotted the rest of their day as they clutched red and yellow tomatoes.

Roger Sullivan sold berry plants and bags of kale and other greens. His tables were still laid out after 11:30, when many vendors started packing up.

"This has been one of the better opening Saturdays I've seen," Sullivan said.

"It's windy, yeah," Joshua Sewell, who works with Sullivan, said. "But that's Missouri for you. And people still came."

A dinosaur kite from Chicago

Clouds stayed in the sky as the morning hours dwindled. In Douglass Park, the wind that didn't let up even as the day warmed benefited another spring festivity: a kite-flying event. 

Children romped in the grass as parents untangled kite strings and teenagers hung around in the center of the field.

Chris Scott was watching his daughter, Sydney, as she flew a kite Scott bought at the Field Museum in Chicago a week ago. It was a kite unlike the others — bigger, with four long streams for a tail and shaped like a dinosaur.

"I was in Chicago, and I'd read about this event happening," Scott said. "I bought this kite so that we could go."

The dinosaur kite plunged into the ground. A young boy, also clutching a string, ran over and picked up the kite and handed it to Scott before running away.

John Mitchell was standing near his niece, Kaleigh, 5, and his two nephews, Killian and Ladaneian, 6 and 8.

Killian’s kite had been stubborn all afternoon and lay motionless on the ground. Nearby, Ladaneian held his kite steady.

Mitchell gracefully pulled Killian’s kite’s string, wound it up, and tried again to get the kite up in the air. This time it worked.

“Come on, little man,” Mitchell said. “It made it up! Let’s try this one more time.”

A trip to the sea

At Stephens Lake Park, kites dotted the sky just like at Douglass Park. Couples sat on blankets in the grass. Bikes spun down pathways.

Jamie Poe was sitting with her daughter, Audrey, and a friend's son, Jackson, both three years old, on a bench overlooking the lake. Audrey and Jackson were drinking blue Kool-Aid.

As the day warmed, the kids flailed around in the grass. Audrey ran to the edge of the water, to Poe's concern. The temperature reached 73 degrees.

"What are you doing?" Poe asked. Audrey ran back to the bench.

"But I want to go in the sea!" Audrey said, her face wrinkled with sadness.

A moment later, Audrey and Jackson were sticking their tongues, stained blue, at each other.

Supervising editor is Simina Mistreanu.


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