A penguin, a manta ray and even a couple of space creatures hovered over Centennial Park in Davenport on Saturday as about 1,000 people turned out for the first day of the first annual Quad-Cities Family Fun and Kite Festival.
"I love the family atmosphere, and there's something for everybody," said Jenifer Patten of Davenport, who organized the festival with her husband, James. Both are members of the Quad-Cities Kite Club.
People who turned out for the event enjoyed making and flying their own kites, playing with animal balloons, taking rides in a Davenport Fire Department ladder truck and more.
The big draw, of course, were the hundreds of kites, large and small, that dotted the sky. James Patten, who has been flying kites since he was a youngster, said he got the idea for the festival from similar events he has attended in other areas.
"I came home to the Quad-Cities every time and thought, there ought to be something here like this, especially with the asset we have, which of course is the river," Patten said.
On Saturday, a robust breeze floated off the river, catching the kites and sending them skyward. The children excitedly pointed to the large ones, such as a manta ray designed by renowned kite maker Peter Lynn of New Zealand. The manta ray kite made its first festival appearance at the Davenport event. The massive kite is 40 feet from wingtip to wingtip and 70 feet from the nose to the tail.
Although his love of kites began as a youngster, James Patten said he has become even more interested in the craft as he learns about the math and geometry of flying. "There's so much science that goes into it, it's amazing," he said, adding that he currently is learning how to take aerial photographs by planting cameras inside of the kites.
He called kite flying a "diverse" sport, adding, "We're showing people something different that brings so much joy, like hot air balloons."
Julie Hillyer of Rock Island rummaged through kites that were for sale with her granddaughter, 4-year-old Maggie Hillyer. "It's a chance to be outside with the wind in your hair, and it's a great way to bond with your grandkids," she said. She and Maggie settled on a Sponge Bob kite.
Lisa Fullerton of Davenport made kites with her children, 6-year-old Calla, 12-year-old Corey and 9-year-old Coleman.
"I like kites because they fly," Calla said. "I had a Barbie one but I broke it and we had to throw it away."
Coleman said he likes flying his kite as high as he can. "It might go higher than another person's and beat it out."