Kites of all shapes, sizes and colors could be seen soaring above Ascot Hills Park in El Sereno Sunday, where the park’s trails have become the site for a fairly new, yet flourishing community celebration.
The Third Annual El Sereno Kite Festival attracted hundreds of families despite hot weather and competition with CicLAvia and other events. Approximately 200 people, mostly adults, signed-in at the event, but the number of attendees may have been closer to 500, according to Michael Oropeza, LA32 Neighborhood Council Arts & Culture Committee chair.
The festival began in 2010 as a way to introduce then recently opened park to the community, Oropeza said, crediting former committee chair Steve Boland with the initial idea. Over the last two years the festival has evolved into a significant community-unifying event, according to Oropeza.
He told EGP they were really surprised by the response they received to the first Kite Festival, noting “It proved to be a very positive experience for a community that has been historically underserved.
“We feel it provides youth and their families with an experience that is a part of a necessary foundation, building blocks essential to a healthy and thriving community, something El Sereno really lacks.”
“From what I know, this is the first type of event like this: the first traditional, annual community event,” Oropeza said.
The LA32 Neighborhood Council sponsored the event with matching funds from County Supervisor Gloria Molina, he told EGP
“Because of Supervisor Molina’s office, we were able to purchase over 400 kites and 400 medals for participating children,” he said, adding the participants also received certificates.
While some brought their own kites, and others made theirs ahead of time at a workshop offered by Vex Arts Center, the vast majority of the children from the low-income community received a donated kite at the event, according to Oropeza.
As part of the day’s festivities, Supervisor Molina and representatives of the nonprofit environmental group Northeast Trees held a tree planting ceremony. According to Molina, 385 new trees will eventually be planted at Ascot Hills Park. Thousands more will be planted across the first district as part of a $1.4 million initiative that aims to plant 4,800 new trees in 20 different locales, including Montebello, Monterey Park and other San Gabriel Valley and Southeast cities, and the eastern portion of the city of Los Angeles and unincorporated areas such as East Los Angeles, Molina announced on Earth Day.
“Nothing transforms the community’s aesthetics like canopies of gorgeous trees,” Molina said. “So we’re investing over $1.4 million to beautify the First District, from South Gate to South El Monte and beyond.”
The LA 32 Neighborhood Council and its Arts and Culture Committee, and the Barrio Action Youth and Family Center hosted the Kite Festival. Students from four different Wilson High School clubs, united under the banner “Urban Visionaries,” volunteered to help teach the children how to fly their kites, and to clean up, Oropeza told EGP. The student members of Teens Representing Environmental Education (TREE), Crankheads Cycling Club, Hip-Hop Club and MEChA, also spent Earth Day upgrading the irrigation system for the school’s community garden.