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Same sky, different park

by jmaloni
Mon, Aug 29th 2011 07:00 am

Kidz 'n' Kites will be flying high Saturday, Sept. 17, but from a new location.

The popular family event that has been entertaining and feeding young and old since 1998, has been relocated to a new park less than two miles away - the Town of Niagara Veterans Memorial Park at 7000 Lockport Road.

Niagara County Department of Social Services Deputy Commissioner Sharon Sloma said the news that the 14th annual Kidz 'n' Kites had to be transplanted came about a month ago when it was clear that Reservoir Park would be in no condition to facilitate the event.

"The reason is that renovations at Reservoir State Park, where it's always been, would not be completed in time for the event," she said.

That's when Town of Niagara Supervisor Steven C. Richards came to the rescue, she noted.

Sloma's boss, Social Services Commissioner Anthony J. Restaino, contacted the supervisor and the Town Board about the idea, and permission was granted for the celebration to take place at the roomy park.

The attractive and spacious attributes of Veterans Memorial Park will add much more to the event for visitors, she said. The big challenge now, is to let everyone know where the new launching pad will be.

"In past years, we've had 3-5,000 people attend," Sloma pointed out. "We have quite a following and we want people to know it's moved."

Kidz 'n' Kites will feature most of the same festivities families have enjoyed for years. Wildlife rescue groups including Aware Wildlife rescue and GRROWLS New York Golden retriever Rescue will be there to entertain and inform. Regulars such as the Niagara Falls Fire Department safety house, the Falls Police Department command center, the Niagara County Sheriff's Office car seat safety check, along with face painting and balloon-twisting clowns will return.

WKBW meteorologist Aaron Mentkowski will return as event chairman.

Entertainment by renowned juggler Nels Ross, music by D.J. the DeeJay, and a professional demonstration by the Great Lakes Kitefliers also will return this year.

New events will include a demonstration by the Presti Karate Center and a display of custom cars.

As always, the PAL of Niagara will be cooking all the hot dogs for the kids and will have plenty on hand for others to purchase.

Through private and corporate donations, Kidz 'n' Kites has been able to provide free hot dog lunches, a kite and an event T-shirt to the first 1,000 kids through the gates for the past 13 years.

Kidz 'n' Kites welcomes new sponsors the Jonathan "J-Mill" Miller Memorial Giving Fund, First Niagara Risk Management, Bonadio Group, the Grigg-Lewis Foundation, the MarJon School of Beauty, Controltec, David Chevrolet Buick Pontiac of Niagara Falls, the Niagara Falls Junior Football Club, the Lewiston Kiwanis, the Boy Scouts of America Greater Niagara Frontier Council, and, of course, the Town of Niagara.

Coordinated and operated by the Department of Social Services, the event continues to benefit from the support of the Niagara County Sheriff's DARE program, the County Youth Bureau, Niagara PAL, M&T Bank, County Law Enforcement Foundation, Modern Disposal, Sahlen, Freshbake, WTS Inc., Elks Lodge 346, Wendy's and Saint-Gobain.

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