The Grinnell Rotary Club will honor the memory of Lt. Col. James A. Ahrens at the fourth annual Kites Over Grinnell to be held Sat., Sept. 28 at Ahrens Park on Penrose Ave. from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Ahrens’ name will appear on the ribbons to be given to children who come to the event.
“Rotarians feel good about honoring Jim’s memory with this family-oriented event,” said Bruce Blankenfeld, who has coordinated Kites Over Grinnell since Rotary took over its sponsorship in 2016. Blankenfeld noted that Jim participated in every Kite event where he operated the reception table and handed out kite prizes.
Ahrens was a long-time Rotarian, first in Lexington, Missouri, where he joined Rotary in 1994 and then in Grinnell after moving back to his hometown with wife Sue in 2008. Rotary benefited from the leadership skills that Ahrens brought to the club from his 20-some years of active military duty with the US Air Force and 12 years with the US Army Reserve. He served as Rotary Club president in 2010-11. Ahrens shared his research interest as well, giving several talks to the Club about Winston Churchill and military history. Ahrens died in March of this year.
New this year at Kites Over Grinnell is a free lunch consisting of hot dogs, chips, and water to be served to the first 400 guests.
A highlight of the event will be the colorful kites that 42 professional kite flyers will bring to Grinnell and fly all day. These professional kite flyers, all members of the American Kitefliers Association (AKA), are from Illinois, Ohio, Michigan, Missouri, Texas, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Iowa.
An added attraction is the demonstration by Team Sky FX, a team of kite flyers from Michigan and Ohio who fly their kites as a sport and synchronized to music.
“The main reason Rotary sponsors Kites Over Grinnell is to encourage young people to fly a kite,” said Blankenfeld. To this end. a total of 900 kites will be distributed prior to the event to the three elementary schools and 5thand 6thgraders in Middle School. Students will decorate their kites during their art classes. “We are grateful to art teachers Farren Johnson and Josh Wardenburg for leading this effort,” said Blankenfeld. He encourages kids to bring their decorated kites to Ahrens Park.
On the day itself a limited number of kites will be available for free. A kite clinic operated by Rotarians will help kite flyers decorate their kites or repair them when necessary.
Prizes will be given out every hour, courtesy of local businesses. Businesses interested in donating prizes and cash are encouraged to contact Blankenfeld at 641-236-5468.
Dave Crawford will provide music and Rick and Martha Mitchell will run various games.
Spectators are encouraged to bring lawn chairs and blankets to sit on.
Kites Over Grinnell was first introduced in 2002 by the late Rev. Dan Ogata, a retired local minister who had a passion for flying. The Grinnell Kiwanis Club, of which Ogata was a member, sponsored the event for several years.
In 2006 Ogata invited Dick and Sis Vogel, who shared his passion for kite flying and are AKA members, to help organize the annual event. Today, the Vogels are still actively involved in bringing the professional kite flyers to Grinnell.
The Grinnell Rotary Club was founded in 1938 and is one of about 35,000 member clubs of Rotary International (RI), an international service organization dedicated to bringing together business and professional leaders to provide humanitarian services, encourage high ethical standards in business and vocations, and advance goodwill and peace throughout the world. Currently, RI has 1.2 million members worldwide.
The Grinnell Rotary Club meets every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at West Side Family Dining.