For years I’ve wanted to see the Kite Festival here in Long Beach, and it was by pure dumb luck that our visit happened to coincide with the annual event, which draws thousands of kite fliers from all over the world.
This year’s festival runs from Monday through Sunday, with all kinds of special events held throughout the day and hundreds of kites overhead at any one time. Terry and I spent yesterday down on the beach watching all of the fun and were enthralled.
There were kites of every shape and size, from the simple traditional triangles we all remember as kids.
To more elaborate designs like these multicolored kites.
There were long kites and round kites and everything in between.
There were also kites shaped like animals, including this panda bear, a fish, a squid, and a parrot.
And other, more whimsical animals like a bumble bee and a Chinese dragon.
Some folks were flying two kites at a time, like this fellow.
While others formed up in teams for formation flying that still photos just cannot do justice to. The best way I can describe it is to picture a child’s kaleidoscope in the air, as they moved in precision patterns of as many as 25 kites at once.
There were also people with four line acrobatic kites with long flowing tails that seemed to dance in the wind as they controlled them by pulling or twisting on the handles or by swinging their arms around. It was pure beauty to watch. It was like watching an aerial ballet.
For those who don’t play well with others, there were also Rokkaku battles, in which several fliers did aerial combat. The idea is to either get on top of it and knock another kite out of the sky, or to saw through the opponent’s lines with yours and cut it loose. And these aren’t just regular string, the lines are anywhere from 150 to over 600 pound test!
Kite people are friendly folk who love to share their sport with others. We stopped to talk to Justin Ford, who was sitting in a chair flying a highly maneuverable Revolution.
Myself and a man named Keiko, whose last name I never got, were talking to Justin and his father, Ron, and Ron told us that a great entry and intermediate level kite was the Prism Snapshot 1.9, which is fast, easy to maneuver, and pretty much indestructible.
Ron got his Snapshot out and gave us a quick lesson, and then let us try it. These are not your grandpa’s old single line paper and wood kite! Made of ripstop nylon, with a 76 inch wingspan, these dual line parafoil-style wing power kites will give you a real workout.
The wind was strong yesterday, at 18-20 miles per hour, and a couple of times the kite really jerked me around. Look at Keiko’s feet in this picture and notice the sand plowing up in front of him as he works the kite. At one point, it actually yanked him off his feet. It was the first time I was ever grateful for my dual spare tire!
Yesterday was really no day for a newbie to try a kite like that, but the good news is that the Snapshot will fly just fine in as little as a four mile per hour wind. I’d really love to have one of these babies!
By the time we got home we were windblown and tired from our long day at the kite festival, but what memories we had made! Today our friends Tom and Barbara Westerfield are driving up from Oregon to see the festival. We have not seen them since our Ohio Gypsy Journal rally about this time last year, so we’re really looking forward to getting together with them. It’s going to be another fun day!
Thought For The Day – Doubt kills more dreams than failure ever will.