Kite Madness – Long Beach, WA
“My first love was the Cody” blared the loudspeaker “and I’ve been in love ever since”
I had no idea what that meant personally, but clearly the crowd here was serious. Hundreds of people were listening intently and craning their attention at the action. They’d set-up camp along the sand in make-shift tents and chairs and there was practically not a patch of open space left. Packs of fans surrounded by reams of kids and doggies, all happily speeding around. These folks were clearly dug in for the day, but no-one was here to sunbathe.
Everyone was looking up at the sky, and the view there was something entirely different.
High above us was a kaleidoscope of action. At least 500 different kites were flying in the early morning haze. A teeming mass of every shape and size imaginable, twirling and spinning in multi-color madness, dancing an intricate ballet that only kite-flyers would understand, but in such an appealing way that everyone was mesmerized.
I’d arrived at the annual Kite Festival of Long Beach, WA and I have to admit I kinda liked it.
Now personally I know nothing about kite flying, well apart from the obvious physics of aerodynamic lift. Try to raise a camping tent in the wind, and you’ll know what I mean. Also I never really got into the hobby as a kid, so I had only a very vague interest in the whole thing. I mean how much is there really to a piece of cloth flapping in the wind? For that very reason the kite festival here hadn’t really spoken to me. I might go, I might not….and I was leaning towards the latter.
But meeting Nick & Terry (and reading their blog) changed that.
Nick is a passionate kite lover, much like the speaker at the festival, and both him and his wife have been chasing wind their entire drive up the coast. The Kite Festival was one of the main reasons they came here, and of course he was going gaga over the whole thing. I’d also been meeting endless reams of kite lovers at the lighthouse, all of whom raved and babbled excitedly about the festival.
Maybe I should go see this thing after all.
So yesterday morning before our shift I moseyed on over to have a look, and I have to admit it was pretty darn awesome. I walked amongst the myriad of colors and swirls for over an hour, people watching, kite spying and just enjoying the buzz of the place.
At one point I was drawn to a semi-circular string of smallish red and white kites by the side of the path. It wasn’t really that impressive or even colorful, but for whatever reason it spoke to me so I started clicking away with my camera.
“They’re all made of Wonder Bread wrappers” said the guy next to me.
“Really?” I replied, quite intrigued by the whole thing.
“Yeah, my father spent all year making them” continued the man “he died earlier this year, so I brought them here to fly for him one last time.”
“Wow. No wonder they spoke to me”.
The man and I chatted for another 20 minutes about life, death and kite flying. It was deeply moving, especially given what I’d just been through this past month, and I have to admit it gave me an insight into kite flying that I’d never had before.
For the rest of my time at the festival I paid more attention to the people and their stories. Young kids enjoying outdoor time with their families, older folks walking hand in hand, amateurs and pros discussing the intricate details of kite strings, wings, wind and shape. Plus doggies everywhere, which always puts extra bonus points in my book for any activity.
I may not have become a kite flying hobbyist, but I’ve definitely come to appreciate the love of the sport. I guess there’s something to this kite flying business after all.
Note/ The Long Beach Kite Festival happens every year around the third week of August. It’s family-friendly and doggies are allowed on leash. More info HERE.