DOINews: NPS-Midwest Region: Lewis and Clark Take to the Skies

Last edited 09/05/2019

(Top to bottom: Kite in flight; Acting Midwest Regional Director Patty Trap and two kids flying kites; kids building kites; Ranger Joanne Ryan showing kids animal pelts; father and son flying kites.)
Kites and imaginations take flight at the National Park Service's 2014 Kite Expo: Visions of Lewis & Clark. Photos by NPS.

Art has a way of transcending language and cultural barriers. Kites have a way of attracting both young and old alike. Bring the two together and you have the makings for a multicultural, multigenerational event that brings families and friends together and encourages them to get outside and recreate.

On May 3, 2014, more than 2,000 people took to the lush, green grass of Tom Hanafans River's Edge Park, in Council Bluffs, Iowa. The new facility, opened just last year, was the site for the opening event of the National Park Service's 2014 Kite Expo: Visions of Lewis & Clark.

Period music from the Rivertown String Band joined with the laughter and excitement of young people building kites, scaling the climbing wall, jostling in the bounce house, exploring a third-scale size keelboat, watching the Native American drummers, and walking in a full-size plains tepee for the first time was an afternoon to remember.

Terry Lee Zee is the owner/curator of the Visions of Lewis & Clark exhibition. The collection consists of 30 large-scale kites that were commissioned from top kite builders all over the world to celebrate the bicentennial of the Lewis & Clark expedition in 2004. The exhibit has been shown in Great Falls, Mont., Louisville, Ky., Portland, Ore., and now in Omaha, Neb., and Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The 30 kites are on display in 10 different locations throughout the Omaha metro and Council Bluffs areas. Each kite was inspired by a quote from the journals of Lewis & Clark and communicates a specific piece of the story. Visitors can become “Kite Explorers” by locating the kites at nine of the 10 sites. Those who choose to participate in the scavenger hunt receive a sticker at each site. If they visit nine of the 10 sites by August 20, they win a Visions of Lewis & Clark knapsack. Kite workshops are also offered during this time, at a number of sites, so young and old alike can build their own kites, get outside, and fly them!

The event has already garnered a following with many visiting the website - - and contributing comments via Facebook and Twitter. May 3 was just the beginning; and as kids from both sides of the river, from all parts of town, and numerous walks of life reveled in the festivities of a sunny, spring day it seemed that this – above all else – was the greatest measure of success.

We are excited for what the summer holds as the Lewis & Clark National Historic Trail strives to communicate the essence of a remarkable historical event by means of relevant relationships, understanding, and multiple perspectives that lend to the visions of Lewis & Clark. Hope to see you on the riverfront!

By: Jennifer Morrell, park ranger, Midwest Region, NPS

May 27, 2014

This story appears in the May 20, 2014, edition of InsideNPS.

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