Greenway Fest offers kites, flicks, canoes

Colorful kites take to the sky this year as the Boston Natural Areas Network hosts the 15th annual Neponset River Greenway Festival. The main event of this year’s free riverfest is the “Kites on the River” event, held at Pope John Paul II Park on Saturday, August 22. Expert kite flyers, show kites and even a kite ballet set to music will be a part of the event sponsored by BNAN, Sea Side Kites, the Massachusetts Department of Conservation and Recreations and Oldies 103.

“This year the big new event is the kite festival,” said BNAN president Valerie Burns. “In Pope John Paul II Park there is always a breeze,” said Burns, “it’s a wonderful place to fly kites.”

Participants are encouraged to bring their own kites and to take part in activities such as kite constructions, lessons and races.

The festivities kick off Thursday night (July 9) with the first of the festival’s family friendly movie nights, held every Thursday through the end of August at dusk also in Pope John Paul II Park. Before this Thursday’s film and the August 20 edition of the movie night, visitors can enjoy a pre-movie kite demonstration in anticipation of that weekend’s kite festival.

Children’s fiction and other books about kites will be available August 10 through 28 at the Lower Mills branch of the Boston Public Library.

The Ryan Playground on River St. in Mattapan will host activities for children throughout July, sponsored by the Mattapan Community Development Center. Storyteller Valerie Stephens will offer interactive tales this Thursday, with a drumming demonstration and magic show later in the month.

Canoe trips along the Neponset have been a perennial favorite of festival-goers since the Greenway Festival began in 1994. Co-sponsored by the MA DCR, the BNAN offers beginners’ paddling instruction as well as several canoe trips through the historic mill areas of Dorchester and out into the salt flats of the bay.

“We started canoe trips from the very beginning 15 years ago to let people have an experience being out on the river and what it means to be on the Neponset River in Dorchester,” Said Burns.

Other events scheduled for July and August include a bike tour of the newest portion of the Neponset Greenway linking Mattapan Square and Martini Shell in Hyde Park. Art and nature programs will feature watercolor painting, sketching and photography along the banks and scenic areas of the river.

“It’s all free, which this years in particular, I think people will appreciate,” Burns said. For more information, visit bostonnatural.org.