Kites float at Zilker Park

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Pu Ying Huang

One-man band, Mr. Jo Jangles, a frequent performer in Austin, sang both original and covers to a crowd of adults and children at the Zilker Kite Festival Sunday afternoon. Jangles joked with his audience and interacted with the children that danced to his performance.

Reihaneh Hajibeigi

Hundreds of colorful, ornate kites covered the skies of Zilker Park Sunday for Austin’s 84th annual charity kite festival.

The Zilker Park Kite Festival, the nation’s oldest kite festival, was started in 1929 by the Exchange Club of Austin and holds contests and activities for the Austin community while raising money for charitable organizations. This year, an estimated 20,000 people participated.

The hefty price of putting on the long-lasting springtime festival, which can cost at least $70,000 a year, was alleviated by the city of Austin’s sponsorship, said Bunnie Tidwell, co-chair of the festival committee and member of the Exchange Club.

Tidwell said the city sponsorship waived a large portion of the fees the organization was responsible for, which included event permits, parking, law enforcement and clean-up. She said numerous other sponsors contributed to the event in addition to the city.

Avni Chopra, festival volunteer and finance senior, said she loved helping out at the festival because of the lively atmosphere and the benefits to the community.

“It was like one big carnival. There was food, entertainment and plenty to do,” she said.

While the event is free for the public, all revenue generated by concession stands, t-shirt sales and company sponsors will go to benefit the Pebble Project, which sends teachers to elementary school to educate students about personal safety to prevent child abuse, Tidwell said.

The festival has supported a wide variety of charitable organizations in the past but always aims at supporting the children in the Austin community, Tidwell said.

“This kite festival is the same as it was when the Exchange Club began it in 1929,” she said. “There aren’t a lot of free events around Austin that appeal to families, so we make sure to continue constructive activities like this for kids.”

Chris Chase said this was her third year attending the festival, and it has never disappointed her.

“I love photography, and the kids love being here,” Chase said. “It’s great to get everybody outside to spend time together.”

Printed on Monday, March 5, 2012 as: Kites float at sunny Zilker Park festival