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’burg flies high with these kites

It was the warmest day of the year, a somewhat out−of−nowhere emergence of full−blown spring on the last weekend of April. It was a perfect day for the fifth annual Williamsburg Kite Festival in McCarren Park, 780 Lorimar Street, presented by the parents of P.S. 132 (320 Manhattan Ave.).

The festival began in 2004 when the parents applied for and received a $3,000 grant from Parents As Art Partners, an organization that seeks to supplement underfunded public school art programs by getting parents involved in the arts education of their children.

It was a natural fit for an artistic parent body, many of whom knew each other from the neighborhood before they even had children. They chose to send their children to P.S. 132 to establish it as a school that emphasizes the arts.

The kite−making program proved to be an immediate hit: In its first year, 87 parents participated and attended the weekly workshops. The next year, that number leapt to 240.

At the festival, the colorful kites were sold at an inexpensive price. Baked goods, other concessions, and arts and crafts were sold as well.

Most of the proceeds from the event will go toward funding a school−wide yoga program, available for every student. (For the first time, 10 percent of the proceeds went toward the Parks Department this year).

“With all the standardized testing these kids have, it puts them under so much pressure. The yoga is a great stress−reliever,” said Lisa Purdom, a parent and festival organizer.

Another stress reliever for the P.S. 132 students will be its new playground, which will be erected where the trailers that housed M.S. 577 once stood. This fall, M.S. 577 moved into the building that also houses P.S. 17 at 208 N. 5th Street.

In addition to the kites, the festival featured musical performances from the Hungry March Band and the locally renowned P.S. 257 marching band, as well as other entertainment.

The entertainment was somewhat scaled back from last year, however, when corporate sponsors donated $8,000. In the economy of Spring 2009, that number shrunk to $2,500.

Still, a good time was had by all. Said P.S. 132 Parent Coordinator Yvonne Gargulio, “The annual P.S. 132 Williamsburg Kite Festival is a wonderful event bringing together our school family and the Williamsburg community.”

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