The Springfield Sister Cities Association and Friends of the Garden host the annual 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.
This family-friendly free event highlights Springfield’s Sister City relationship with Isesaki, Japan and Tlaquepaque, Mexico. Kids and adults are invited to fly kites in the park as wll 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.
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.
At about 4 p.m., 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 Tlaquepaque-based sculptor Rodo Padilla. The sculpture, titled “Amigos,” features bronze spheres with happy smiles atop a black ceramic-covered body that serves as a reclining park bench. Part of the sculpture wraps around a dogwood tree, 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,” Rodo Padilla wrote in a statement about the piece, translated from Spanish. Rodo Padilla, 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.