UPTOWN — Assembling a kite for the first time Saturday proved to be a little trickier than Ray Muhammad thought it would.
"Look, I don't know a thing about kite flying to be honest with you," Muhammad said with a smile after he had finished putting together a kite for his two sons. "My hope was that they would have helpers out here, but we figured it out."
Muhammad's kite was one of thousands that filled the sky at the 15th annual Kids and Kites Festival. The free festival was hosted by the city's Department of Cultural Affairs and Special Events at Lincoln Park's Cricket Hill.
Muhammad, of Hyde Park, said he brought his two sons because he wanted to spark their interest in aviation.
"I never had that opportunity as a youngster, but I swore I was going to try to do that for my sons," he said.
Muhammad said it was the first time his older son, Malik Ali, would fly a kite.
"Once we get this in the air and he sees he can control it, oh yeah, then he'll be excited," he said.
The festival brought out kids and parents, novices and aficionados, and even professional kite flyers.
Ed Brunt, of Rogers Park, said he has been flying kites for 12 years. Brunt was one of the few who put on kite flying demonstrations in the designated area for professionals. He said "professional" may be a bit of a misnomer though because he doesn't get paid.
Still, he has been flying kites at the festival in the professional area for about eight years. He said it took him a little while to build up the confidence and skill before being called up to the "big leagues."
"It's all a matter of touch, and then of course, you just count on the wind to stay consistent," Brunt said. "Practice makes perfect, it's all it is."
Brunt said he loves kite flying because it's simple.
"You know, it's one of those hobbies where once you make an investment all you need is wind…and it's just fun," he said.
In addition to professional demonstrations, kids enjoyed kite making, face painting and a piñata kite filled with candy. Festival goers were free to bring their own kites or buy them at the festival. The city also provided free kites.
Yvette Davis, from Lawndale, said she brought her nephews and nieces to the festival because she loved flying kites as a child.
She watched as the kids ran around the field trying to keep their kite in the air.
"They're not gonna stop talking about this," Davis said. "They're enjoying it. This is what they need."