Same sky. Different park.
Kidz 'n' Kites will be flying high next month 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.
Organizers are confident that those who attend the free celebration, scheduled for Sept. 17 with a rain date set for the next day, will immediately adapt to the scenic surroundings offered at the new location.
Veterans Memorial Park should be easy for families to find as it is right off Military Road, across from the Town Hall, and less than five minutes from the former event location.
Niagara County Department of Social Services coordinates and runs the event. Deputy Commissioner Sharon Sloma said the news that the 14th annual event had to be transplanted came about a month ago, when it became clear that Reservoir Park would be in no condition to host 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.
Sloma's boss, Social Services Commissioner Anthony J. Restaino, contacted the supervisor and the Town Board about the idea. Following a work session on Aug. 4, permission was granted for the celebration to take place at the park.
As it turns out, "the attractive and spacious attributes of Veterans Memorial Park," will add much more to the event for visitors, Sloma said, as well as having a great layout for organizers. "It really has certainly all the amenities required for Kidz 'n' Kites -- for registration, entertaining and kite flying."
The big challenge now, she said, is to let everyone know where the new launching pad will be.
"In past years, we've had 3,000 to 5,000 people attend," Sloma said. "We have quite a following, and we want people to know it's moved."
Even though it has a new location, 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-TV meteorologist Aaron Mentkowski returns as chairman.
The Police Athletic League of Niagara will cook 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 each year.