Kites of every color fly high over DeKalb By Andy McMurray - Contributing Writer DeKALB - People of all ages came from as far away as Iowa and Wisconsin for DeKalb's first-ever Kite Festival on Sunday on the campus of Northern Illinois University. Colorful and expensive kites, but also smaller, less-expensive ones, dotted the skies over the field known as the North 40. Among them were a giant, 46-foot-long gecko hovering above the ground and a rainbow-colored tube dancing about in midair. The Kite Festival was the brainchild of Chris and Jim Overmann. Event organizer Chris Overmann, a Walnut native and DeKalb resident for about the last four years, credited her children with the inspiration for the event. The Overmann children have had kite-flying in their blood practically since birth, Chris Overmann said. She related a story about her son, Nathan, from when he was a baby. “Our first kite we bought when the kids were little. Nathan was little, 6 months old, in the stroller holding on to the string of a kite,” she said. She added that her 4-year-old daughter has been “flying half her life.” The Overmann children had seen kite festivals around the Midwest, and they began to ask their mother why there wasn't such an event in DeKalb. It was then that the idea for a DeKalb Kite Festival was born. Chuck Siebrasse, executive director of the DeKalb Chamber of Commerce, which helped organize the event, said that kites take people back to their childhood. The largest kites are the most dangerous, according to professional “kiter” Dale Bowden of Wisconsin Rapids. Bowden said a professional kiter generally flies larger-than-normal kites. He is particularly concerned with public kite safety. “They don't realize that between the pretty colors and the ground there's a line where if you walk into it could do some damage to the pretty face,” Bowden said. “That's why we try to mark fields off.” Though he has never witnessed an injury from flying kites, being proactive in terms of kite safety makes an already-safe hobby even safer, he said. Bowden said his largest kite had 1,100-pound test line attached to it because large kites have a lot more pull than the typical consumer variety. Bowden said he will spend the next couple of weeks away from home at various kite-flying events. Others at the event shared Bowden's enthusiasm for kites - from the children lined up at the make-your-own-kite station to other professionals, such as Robert Rymaszewski of Greenfield, Wis. Rymaszewski is the Region 6 director of the American Kitefliers Association. Region 6 encompasses Iowa, Illinois, Wisconsin, Indiana and Minnesota. He began flying kites in 1991 and was the owner of Sunday's hovering purple gecko. Peter Lynn of New Zealand designed the gecko kite as well as the world's largest kite, which will be showcased at next month's American Kitefliers Association national convention in Des Moines. The world's largest kite is a 10,000-square-foot American flag that weighs in at 500 pounds and has stars more than 4 feet tall. One of the festival highlights, at least for the kids, was the candy drop. In what amounted to a high-altitude exploding piņata, a sack dangling from a kite released candy, and children were allowed to rush the field to collect it.