Wind fest draws Memorial Day crowds | May 29, 2009 | Danville Express | |

Danville Express

Newsfront - May 29, 2009

Wind fest draws Memorial Day crowds

Weather doesn't cooperate with hot air balloon launch

by Elaine Betts

The hot air balloons could not be launched again this year at the San Ramon Art and Wind Festival held Sunday and Monday due to weather conditions but there were plenty of other fun activities.

Melissa Johnson of Danville has been coming for the past five years bringing her children, who are 2, 5 and 6 years old.

"We visit the stands and jump houses and watch the skateboarders," Johnson said, referencing the demonstrations by skateboard teams from The Shop in San Ramon. "It's friendly, and (there's) lots of food."

This year saw more activities for teenagers and rides for toddlers. Mitch McKay of Games2U provided video games which were a hit with children of all ages. With big screens on the outside of the truck, passers-by couldn't help but stop and watch as teenagers played Wii and others darted around playing laser tag.

The "hamster ball" also caught the attention of people who were intrigued by children of all ages diving and flipping in a clear plastic ball.

But as always the wind was the main attraction. Activities included making wind bonnets, wind wands and, of course, kites. National kite flying champions from all over the United States and Canada held demonstrations both days of the event and everyone was invited to go fly a kite. Hot air balloons were launched on the second day of the festival.

"The fun part is the candy drop," explained one of the kite-flyers. "We send up a kite with a basket of candy and then drop the candy out. The kids love it!"

Diana Sharkey of Stubble Bubbles, located in Ahwahnee near Yosemite, has been a vendor from for the past 11 years.

"I do eight festivals in California and others on the East Coast and this is one of the best," said Sharkey. "This really is the best show for kids and is community based. There are not many like this."

Many took a break from the activities by visiting the arts and crafts booths and stopping at one of the 25 food and beverage stands. The food stands are manned by local nonprofit organizations and all the profits go back into the community.

"Last year we raised $75,000," said Nicole Blazin of the City of San Ramon Parks and Community Services Department, which coordinates the event.

Dennis Harvey and Don Jones from San Ramon Rotary Club were two of the longest standing Rotarians on the beer stand.

"I've been manning the stand since it started 20 years ago," Dennis said. "Don is a year behind me with 19 years."