October 2
Chicago Lakefront Flying

So imagine you are taking a leisurely Saturday drive along busy Lakeshore Drive on the very east edge of Chicago, and out of the park at the water's edge, a giant Octopus leaps into the air....

Welcome to Mayor Daley's Summer Kites and Kids Festival! It started in May with a kite fly in the city, included a museum display, promoted kid's kitemaking programs, and ended with a gathering in October at Cricket Hill near Montrose Harbor. The whole series was coordinated by the Mayor's Office of Special Events..

Big city's can do things the rest of us can't...

True Story: Event Co-organizer David Zavell called me to swear this story is true.

A Chicago psychiatrist is counseling one of his patients in a lakeside office when the paranoid-schizophrenic looks out the window to where the festival is starting and becomes visibly agitated. The guy is hyperventilating, waving his arms and shouting. "What's wrong??", asks the doctor.

"I'm halucinating!!" cries the patient. "I see a giant red octopus coming out of the lake and swimming in the air across the park."

The morning started cloudy and cold. Kids arrived from schools throughout the area for kitemaking programs. The tents were packed as members of the Chicagoland Skyliners helped assemble hundreds of sled kites.

This was a relatively small event, but it drew a good collection of fliers who had dropped into Chicago on their way to the AKA convention in Muncie. Participants included Jose Sainz from San Diego, Scott Skinner from Colorado. and Brian Smith from Ontario Canada.

Chicago Fire spent the day practicing for the Grand Nationals. The venue was convenient -- only four blocks from Eric Wolff's house.

BTW -- did you know this week is the 128th anniversary of the real Chicago Fire??

Al Sparling anchored a full set of our beach balls on the hillside. This was the first time he'd flown them.

We flew the Octopus and Trilobite almost all day. Whenever the winds dropped, the tails brushed the ground and the kids came swarming in to grab them. There were times when we got a little nervous (and frustrated with the nearby parents). But having a policeman mounted on a horse nearby helped (and made for some cool pictures which we hope to find copies of).

We also popped up one of our big Crowns later in the day.

We finished off Saturday with a downtown tour, stuffed ourselves like grape leaves in a fine Greek restaurant, and then climbed to the top of the Hancock Building for a spectacular night view of the city.

It was good flying and good fun. I'd go back in a minute.

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