KubotaoftheOzarks

Cherry Blossom Kite, Piñatas and Mariachi music coming to gardens

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Upwards of 500-700 kites are expected to fill the skies above the Springfield Botanical Gardens on Saturday, April 22.

The Springfield Sister Cities Association and Friends of the Garden will be celebrating completion of of theannual Cherry Blossom Kite and Piñata Festival Saturday, April 22, 11 a.m.-3 p.m., at Nathanael Greene/Close Memorial Park, 2400 S. Scenic Ave., Springfield.

Immediately following the festival, everyone is invited to a free 3-5 p.m. concert featuring Mariachi Viva Xalisco, and special guest, Paco Padilla, all visiting from Tlaquepaque. The concert serves as the dedication for the Peace Through People Pavilion, which was completed last fall.

This family-friendly free event highlights Springfield’s Sister City relationship with Tlaquepaque, Mexico and Isesaki, Japan. Kids and adults are invited to fly kites in the park as well as take part in kite building and decorating, piñatas, face painting, chopsticks instruction, origami and other Japanese and Mexican crafts and games.

All activities are free except kite building; kite kits cost $5. Performances during the festival feature Uke 66 ukulele group, Marimba Caliente and Kizuna Japan American Friendship Club, which will lead interactive folk dancing. Performances and activities take place at the new Peace Through People Pavilion, with kite flying on the Great Lawn.

As part of the festival, admission to the Mizumoto Japanese Stroll Garden, usually $3, is free the all day April 22.

As the band takes a break, the Springfield Sister Cities Association and Friends of the Garden will unveil a new sculpture near the pavilion by acclaimed Tlaquepaque-based sculptor Rodo Padilla.

The sculpture, titled “Amigos,” features bronze spheres with happy smiles atop a black ceramic-covered body that also serves as a reclining park bench. Part of the sculpture wraps around a dogwood tree, to be planted as part of the installation.

“The sculpture comes to life expressing a true relationship of friendship and peace between people and their God-given environment,” writes Rodo Padilla in a statement explaining the piece, translated from Spanish. Rodo, brother to Paco Padilla, will also be in attendance for the event.

Construction of the Peace Through People Pavilion and commission of the sculpture were funded entirely by private donations through the Springfield Sister Cities Association and Friends of the Garden. Read more about the pavilion at ParkBoard.org

The Cherry Blossom Kite and Piñata Festival, and the dedication concert, are made possible through a partnership between the Springfield Sister Cities Association, Friends of the Garden, the Springfield Regional Arts Council, the Community Foundation of the Ozarks, Kickapoo High School Japanese Language Club and the Springfield-Greene County Park Board.

George Freeman is a veteran journalist and photographer. An award-winning writer, editor and columnist in Springfield, Mo., with more than 50 years experience. His preference is for positive and uplifting stories about people, places, traditions and trends that make the Ozarks one of the most livable regions anywhere. A member of the Garden Writers Association of America, he is a past-president of the Society of Professional Journalists of Southwest Missouri, the Kansas and Ohio AP societies; a board member of Friends of the Garden and a member of the Rotary Club of Springfield. In 1976, he traveled to India as a member of a Rotary Foundation Group Study Exchange Team.

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