100 Years, 100 Stories
One day each spring, kites soar in the skies over MCC-Longview at the Flights of Fancy kite festival.
Nearly 10 years ago, Dr. Fred Grogan, former MCC-Longview president, envisioned a sky full of kites over the beautiful grounds of the campus. “Dr. Grogan thought the Longview grounds were a perfect place to fly kites,” recounts, Tami Morrow, community education coordinator and event organizer. The original idea wasn’t a festival or even a formal event, but an idea for a community gathering to “just fly kites.”
Flights of Fancy began in 2007 and incorporated a partnership with the Kansas City Kite Club. With a minimal marketing and advertising budget, the inaugural kite festival drew in 3,500 people in attendance. The second year, MCC-Longview sought out donations and grew the audience to 6,000. In 2014, with seven years of reputation, partnerships and sponsors, the Flights of Fancy kite festival pulled in 24,000 people.
Each year, the free, family-friendly event features dazzling mega kite displays by the Kansas City Kite Club and is the only festival of its kind in the region. The Kansas City Kite Club displays stunt and power kites and the world’s largest windsock. MCC-Longview’s campus life and leadership provides children’s activities, including kite making, an inflatable maze, face painting, a balloon artist and a candy drop. The festival also offers food vendors, business vendors and a DJ for entertainment.
In order to keep this community event free, the Flights of Fancy kite festival received two grants in 2015 totaling nearly $8,000 from Truman Heartland Community Foundation and Faith Outreach Foundation.
Morrow and a planning committee begin planning the kite festival in October. “This is the kind of event that is fun for every age, from two to100. It’s a multigenerational event that gets the community on campus,” said Morrow. With five months of preparation, Morrow said it was difficult to decide which part of the festival was her favorite. “The best part is at 10 a.m., when all the vendors are in place and the kites are up in the sky. After that it’s a piece of cake and everyone can relax and enjoy the day.”
For the first time in nine years, the 2015 kite festival was cancelled for the safety of volunteers and visitors due to thunderstorms. It was disappointing and with all the rain this spring Morrow said that finding an alternate date would have been nearly impossible. Next year’s Flights of Fancy kite festival will be April 16, 2016. Attendees are asked to bring lawn chairs and blankets and make a day of the festivities. People can bring their own kites, make one or buy one at the festival and fly it on the lawn of MCC-Longview.