DeKALB – Marsha Black-Chen was surprised to see a flying octopus.
The giant squidlike kite was one of many to dance in the wind of the DeKalb sky Sunday as hundreds of people came to Northern Illinois University to participate in the seventh annual Kite Fest.
Black-Chen, who attended the fest with her 10-year-old son for the second time, said the event reminded her of the annual kite festivals in her native Jamaica. She said she never gets tired of seeing the designs and colors of kites in the sky.
"It's a great family event," she said. "It really helps bring the community together."
The festival actually brought multiple communities together because people such as Geoff Waguespack came as far away as Oswego with his son's Scout troop; others, such as Matt Skeens of Cortland, traveled shorter distances.
Skeens, who came to the festival for the first time with his daughter, said the 70-degree, slightly breezy weather was too perfect to pass up.
"I don't know how they picked such a perfect day," Skeens said. "They must have a psychic."
While many people casually attempted to fly their kites, the festival did attract skilled handlers who demonstrated different techniques for attendees.
Dale Bowden, former president of the Wisconsin Kiters Club, was one of the demonstrators at the event and said participating in community events such as DeKalb's is something he enjoys doing year round. He even performs at festivals on frozen lakes during the winter.
Bowden, who has flown kites for 50 years, said one of the main issues he stresses is safety. The lines, especially on power kites and multiple line kites, can cause severe burns and cuts if handled improperly.
"You have to watch your kite, know the wind, and react to the wind," he said. "They can do major damage."
Doug Nelson, chairman of the DeKalb County Convention and Visitors Bureau and an event organizer, said he could not have asked for a better day. Seeing all the families come out on a sunny day with just enough wind made theorganizing worth it, he said.
"There is nothing prettier than this," he said of the scene. "It's just a good, family-friendly event that gets everybody active and outside together."