Aliens and octopuses will swoop through the air this weekend in Naperville.
The Naperville Park District is sponsoring its eighth annual Frontier Kite Fly Festival Sunday, June 1, and attendees should expect everything from small, traditional diamonds to 90-foot streamers.
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The event is a collaboration between the park district and Chicago Kite, a Norwood Park company. Owner David Zavell has been in the kite business for 22 years and has been with the festival since its beginning in 2007, offering demonstrations and selling his varied aerial fliers.
"The festival and kite flying is a great alternative to lots of typical summer events," Zavell said. "These fliers and participants are really passionate."
The festival began in response to the growing interest in kite-flying in the open spaces provided by the Western suburbs.
"We noticed kites were becoming popular in the area and this seemed like a natural way to support that," said Brett Lindahl, the park district's organizer for the event.
The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Frontier Sports Complex in Naperville at 3380 Cedar Glade Road. The event will feature demonstrations by Zavell and Team Chicago Kite as well as fliers from around the Midwest.
Kites used in the past have included 40-foot penguins and parrots, to long and sleek gliders designed for speed. Amateur fliers should not feel discouraged, however. Anyone can bring a kite and show their skills in a dedicated demonstration area while families with younger fliers can experiment in a separate area.
Children also have an opportunity to play in inflatable moon jumps and obstacle courses, and can create and color their own kites at craft tables.
Younger festivalgoers also are able to participate in one of the event's most enduring traditions: the candy drop. Larger kites have been outfitted to hold a bag filled with candy, and fliers use a mechanism that slowly dribbles out candy in a designated area for scrambling children below.
"Imagine it as a giant piñata," Lindahl said. "And kids always try to chase it down to fill their bags."
The festival also is welcoming the Neptune firetruck, which carried first responders from Neptune, N.J., during the Sept. 11 attacks. The truck was the third rescue vehicle to respond to the collapse of the World Trade Center towers and was donated to Bike Bald, a Naperville-based organization that raises money for cancer research and awareness.
Other activities include performances by local artists Andrew Huber and Blue Fish Movement, as well as the Neuqua Valley High School Steel Band. Admission is free for the festival (though there is a fee for some activities) and parking is available south of Cedar Glade Road and next to the nearby softball fields.
For information, call (630) 848-5000 or visit napervilleparks.org.