Kites soar above Buffalo Grove
Updated: October 21, 2012 1:09PM
BUFFALO GROVE — They are toys and instruments of science — and last weekend, an activity that quickly turned from modest to thrilling every time the wind blew over Buffalo Grove’s Mike Rylko Community Park.
Dozens of families flew kites together Sunday afternoon as part of the Buffalo Grove Park District’s free kite-flying event. The also district brought in a professional stunt-kiting group to show off what the timeless toys can do when in the hands of a skilled user, but the focus of the afternoon was to give parents and kids an activity to enjoy together.
“It’s one of those things that, as a family, you don’t learn, and families don’t do,” said Erika Strojinc, a park district recreation supervisor.
She noted that families filtered in and out of the park throughout the day. Those in the morning found the wind a little still, but “toward the end of the day it really picked up,” Strojinc said.
The district has held a community kite fly for at least seven years, she added. Many park districts around the state hold similar activities, but typically in April, which is National Kite Fly Month. While the Buffalo Grove version has attracted about 100 people each year, Buffalo Grove decided to move its event to September to capitalize on a day that would likely be warmer.
“Around here, April’s just not a good month, unfortunately,” Strojinc said.
But the traditional pastime did spend a significant amount of time in Buffalo Grove this summer. Just a few blocks away at the Raupp Museum, an exhibit about the history and varied uses of the kite was on display from June 6 through Aug. 10.
“It’s actually a much bigger history than we anticipated when we began the exhibit,” said Debbie Fandrei, museum coordinator.
The origin of the activity that took place Sunday dates back centuries, possibly to China where kites were first written about, or maybe to the Polynesian islands where they might have been invented, Fandrei explained. It is hard to be sure, she added, if the first creators of kites believed they were making a toy for children or an elevation device for experiments.
“They’ve always been toys, but they’ve also always been very, very instrumental in science,” Fandrei said.
Benjamin Franklin learned about lightning through the use of a kite, Fandrei added, and giant wind-powered flying canvasses have since proved to be crucial in meteorology, and even communication and surveillance during World War II.
And currently, more math and physics are used in the construction of kites than ever before — particularly those used by the experts at Chicago Kite, a retail outlet that sells them and also fields a team of skilled fliers to model them.
The Park District brought Chicago Kite fliers to its event Sunday to show visitors the tricks that one can do with the right equipment and skill.
Both Strojinc and Fandrei said their motivations for putting on kite-based attractions were similar: The activity is both challenging and enjoyable.
“Personally, I’ve never been able to keep a kite up more than 30 seconds,” Strojinc said.
“Because it was fun, and it was interesting,” added Fandrei.