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Families applaud the return of Kite Day in Watertown’s Thompson Park

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WATERTOWN — It was a 1970s revival Saturday as people flew kites on the Thompson Park hill, vendors sold goods nearby and bands played at the foot of the hill.

The city’s popular Kite Day returned to the area after a nearly 40-year hiatus.

Mayor Jeffrey E. Graham said Kite Day was popular in the ’70s and the city is going back to more family-friendly roots. Kite Day was discontinued back then after concerns arose regarding alcohol consumption by some attendees. While there was discussion about having a beer tent this year, the city opted to pass that up. Mr. Graham said additions or improvements may be considered for Kite Day next year.

The idea, he said, is to make Kite Day an annual event again.

“It’s a perfect day for kites,” Stephen Keller said, as he controlled a kite in between gusts of wind.

His wife, Madeleine, said the chilly weather didn’t deter them from bringing their son, Alexander, 3, to the free event.

“If we survived the winter, we can survive this,” she said.

Mr. Keller said he flew kites as a child, and Kite Day’s return helped him relive part of his childhood alongside his son.

Onlookers wrapped up in heavy blankets and hooded sweatshirts as they barbecued in the adjacent picnic area.

Rainbow stripes, a spaceship design and a Doc McStuffin character were a few of the many kites that swayed in the sky.

The Kellers lauded the event for spacing out the kite-flying area, vendors and bands. Live music lasted from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. with performances by the Double Vision Band, Tough Luck, Ransom, 70 Rockland Ave., Wagner’s Agenda, the Robin Davis Project, Drafgnfly, Underworld, Fred & the Eds, Lake Effect Mud and Annie in the Water.

Food and product vendors lined the blocked-off street atop the hill, and family-friendly activities such as face painting and kite-making workshops also were offered.

The event was sponsored by Stanley Law, the Whimsical Pig and Music for the Mission, and benefited the Wounded Warrior Project.

Amy Shockley, Watertown, said Kite Day was the perfect opportunity to spend time flying kites with her son, Andrew, 5, since their outdoor space is minimal.

“Mom, there’s no room in our yard to fly it,” Andrew said, as he waited for a gust of wind to pick up his rocket ship-design kite.

Mrs. Shockley said it would be nice to have more offerings in the park.

Each July there typically is an outdoor concert performed by a local or nearby orchestra. In the 1980s, there were no park events until the now defunct Syracuse Symphony Orchestra started playing there around the July 4 holiday. Last year, an Independence Day concert was performed by the Orchestra of Northern New York. This year, the orchestra’s concert will be July 2.

Earlier this year, the city also welcomed the return of Snowtown USA, a popular midwinter festival during the 1980s and 1990s.

City events are listed at http://www.watertown-ny.gov/.

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