Look, up in the sky

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The expression “Go fly a kite” may be a slang kiss-off to some people but to Errin Rowell and her brother Erich Thomas it probably sounds like a delightful suggestion.

The siblings are two of the leaders behind the upcoming 4th Annual Atlanta World Kite Festival and Expo, which takes place Oct. 24 at Piedmont Park in Atlanta.

Both have been kite lovers for decades, dating back to when they were children. Now they want to share their love of kite flying with as many people as possible.

Rowell, an East Atlanta resident, said she first engaged in the activity with her father and continues today with her husband, Joe, who recalled annual kite flying events in his hometown of Boston, and their child and grandchild. When her brother and his wife started to have children, Rowell said the families often spent time together flying kites on the weekends.

Once the siblings was living in Atlanta they discovered there wasn’t a similar event here and decided to create one. The first event attracted about 4,500 people, she said. It was held at Centennial Olympic Park in Atlanta for a number of years, however, too many restrictions made them move it to the Piedmont Park.

Thomas, who lives in Lithonia, emphasized that kite flying is an inexpensive family activity that can gets adults and children out of the house.

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The father of five (the three youngest are 2, 5 and 6) said kite flying also holds the interest of young children who often have short attention spans.

“My son can do it for hours,” Thomas said.

Thomas and his wife Jakita own five kites. A 4- to 5-foot tiger character kite is his favorite.

The organizers are hoping that this year’s event will draw about 5,000 people.

“People bring their kites from home and run all over the meadow,” Rowell said. “At the peak time there will be hundreds of kites in the air.”

The Rowells own 15-20 kites—paper, dragon and shift kites—including their favorite a Darth Vader kite.

“What I like about kite flying is whenever you bring up kites into a conversation it always evokes nostalgia. It’s always a warm, memorable experience,” Rowell said.

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“It’s a wonderful activity for us as a family,” said Rowell, adding that family members are coming from Florida, Boston and Chicago for the festival.

The free festival, which takes place in the meadow at the corner of 10th Street and Monroe Drive, includes a kite decorating contest, food vendors and entertainment. American Kite Flyers Association members are expected to display some of their large kites as well. Thomas will serve as the event’s emcee.

Rowell said this year they are also introducing a STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) component.

“Kite flying kinda works with a lot of different discipline,” said Rowell, noting that it involves physics, aerospace, mass and wind speed.

For more information on the festival, go to www.atlantaworldkitefestival.com.

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