It is an event that brings together diverse groups from the community for family fun. It will have more than 90 exhibitors sharing their information to help enhance quality of life. It strives to bridge language and cultural gaps.
And, it comes with an added bonus:
“Oh, by the way, we can fly kites,” says Kenny Anderson, Multicultural Affairs Officer for the City of Huntsville.
The fifth annual Community Kite Festival is set for Saturday, March 4 at the Jaycees Fairgrounds and surrounding areas at John Hunt Park, from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m. Free parking is available at the Joe Davis Stadium lot.
The event is a partnership between AshaKiran, a non-profit organization whose name translates into “Ray of Hope,” and the City of Huntsville.
“A lot of times, people can’t get involved because of different languages or cultural differences. They’re not aware of all that’s going on,” says Josia Fiore, the community outreach coordinator for AshaKiran. “With this type of event, that doesn’t matter. You can just fly a kite.”
This year’s festival theme is “Soaring for Social Justice.”
“This is one of those annual events that bring together people from every demographic of the community, across the spectrum of communities and neighborhoods,” Anderson says. “You have so many different people and everybody’s out there for the same reason: They’re supporting the community.”
“That’s not being political whatsoever,” Fiore says. “It’s to see that all these different people can meet face-to-face, to find out more information. It’s how to get involved, to take advantage of services and about the programs that are here and available.”
AshaKiran, which recently celebrated its 10th anniversary, provides culturally sensitive support with emergency shelters, advocacy, transportation and translation services for foreign-born residents dealing with crises.
“The City’s support means a lot to people who may not have a good handle on the local area, but when they see the City supporting one of these large events, it speaks volumes knowing the City supports an event that’s very inclusive,” Fiore says. “We couldn’t do a lot of this without the support of the City of Huntsville with logistics and the site.”
“This is one of those annual events that bring together people from every demographic of the community, across the spectrum of communities and neighborhoods,” Anderson says. “It’s people from social and civic organizations, academic institutions, family social service groups and neighborhood associations. You have so many different people and everybody’s out there for the same reason: They’re supporting the community.”
The festivities include music, other entertainment, a petting zoo, children’s activities and food trucks. Children may participate in a crafts project sponsored by Burritt on the Mountain. More than 6,000 attended last year’s festival.
The first 100 children to arrive will be given free kites, and a limited number of kites will be on sale. Participants may bring their own kites to fly as well.
Chicago Kites will be the kite vendor and will be flying some of its enormous specialty kites. Says Anderson, “That’s always a magical part of the day.”
Those flying the kites are “the whole spectrum,” he says. “You see people literally learning for the first time. You see people who fly kites on a regular basis. You see people looking up in wonderment and amazement at how high their kites are going and how many kites are in the air. It’s a whole sensory experience that people find amazing. It’s as if they’re reminding themselves of what it was like to be kids.
“It’s like, how can you argue about an ice cream truck,” Anderson says. “And how can you debate about kite-flying?”