By David Yarger
On Saturday, kids and families stormed into the Town of Niagara's Veterans Memorial Park for the 20th annual Kidz 'n' Kites festival.
Participants were greeted with great weather, free prizes and activities and a sky full of kites.
The first 1,000 kids to register received a free T-shirt, kite and lunch. Once registered, kids could head to the flying field to get their kite in the air, or walk around and view the various tents and displays presented at the festival.
In attendance was the Niagara PAL (Police Athletic League) serving lunch to the attendees, Bikers Against Child Abuse, who let children sit on their bikes and were first-timers to attend the event.
The Niagara County Sheriff's office was on hand talking to families, as well as doing a car seat safety check.
AWARE (Association for wild animal rehabilitation and education) was in attendance showing various animals including several owls.
Fidelis, Barge Canal Optimist, Berkshire Farm Center, and New Directions youth and family center all had tents at the event, as well.
The event had a diverse group of people, some people returning for several consecutive years and some like Ken Marshanke who brought his grandson Evan, 2, to his first ever kite festival.
Social Services Commissioner Anthony Restaino said he talked to a fair share of people who shared about their experiences.
"There's been a few people who didn't even realize we were doing this," Restaino said. "I've had people come up and say we're back here again, another year, another Kidz 'n' Kites. It's kind of neat, again, seeing people familiar from year's past and we've got some new people out here today, so it's fantastic."
Deputy Commissioner, Meghan Lutz said the event was getting great reviews.
"We're hearing a ton of positive reviews. We have a nice sunny day which is always helpful," she said.
Lutz added the organizations at the festival were key in making it possible for the families to have a fun time at the event.
Restaino and Lutz praised the Town of Niagara for the great turnout, and noted their appreciation for the sponsors of the event.
"We're very pleased," Restaino said, "I think the weather has helped, because the last two years the weather has not been very good for us. But, today it's just fantastic. I think we got a good showing here today.
"Without the sponsors we couldn't put this on. There is no taxpayer dollars involved with this, it is all of a result of the sponsors making contributions so that were able to purchase the T-shirts, get the kites and even with the prizes. All of the prizes are all donated by local businesses. So, without them, we couldn't do this."
Lutz said, "The Town of Niagara has been so supportive and we're really happy to have all the residents of the Town of Niagara and also Niagara County. We're so thankful for the support of the businesses and organizations that were able to donate gifts or prizes and financial support to help us make this a great day."
The event's date for next year is set for Saturday, Sept. 15.
Children fly their kites.