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.SPONSORED LINK:
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We LOooVE Comments, So Please Do
Malcolm Callister says
Amazing shots, as always! It’s almost as if I am there. 🙂
Thanks Shelly 🙂
The sky full of kites is like a preview of ABQ in Oct.
“Somewhere,” I still have the kite I bought in Long Beach about 20 years ago. I think of it often but don’t usually get much further than thinking about it.
As usual, your photographs are wonderful. Thank you!
Yeah, I was actually thinking this was a good photography “test session” for me for ABQ. It’s harder than I thought to capture the “action” and scale of something like this. This has been a learning session for me. I plan to do even better at ABQ!
Pam Wright says
I can just imagine how colorful the sky was with all the kites. While I’ve never flown a kite, I do find the fancy one interesting. Love the Wonder Bread kite:) You were meant to come this day and meet this man. Great shot of the kite over the sun…a stain glass affect.
I definitely believe in fate when it comes to stuff like this. A very fortuitous meeting!
Penny Lynch says
Love these pictures. Makes me want to go to Longbeach Washington. Do love that area.
It’s a fun little area and I’ve got at least one more post about it before we leave. We’ve certainly enjoyed our 2 months here.
When we traveled the coast of Washington several years ago, the cowboy became enamored with all the kites on the beach–purchased one and had a ball flying it. We’ve not been back to the Washington coast since then, maybe it is time?? It’s so smoky here, I am ready for a “fire season ending event!”
We’ve been watching all those fires pretty closely. I’m really hoping the fires get under control and the air clears before we make our way East. Scary stuff.
Lots of great pics, Nina. But I really like the one with the kite immediately in front of the sun. Might cool effect you got there.
Now, I wonder why I had such s strong feeling I’d be seeing a kite post like this from you? Hmmm… Lol!
I hope the fires and weather improve for you soon as it’s horribly smokey and unhealthy in much/most of eastern WA right now. It as very smokey high up in the sky here in Puget Sound yesterday. This morning it was much lower, but early evening here it was quite noticeable at ground level. As in you can smell it, easily. Not good.
I FINALLY made that kite festival…glad I went in the end! It’s really sad about the fires and smoke. I really hope all these fires calm down and are cleared over the next week or so. It’s tough, tough times for all the fire fighters out there.
We live in Washington state, I watch for the weather on the Washington coasts, it is smoky and cloudy here but hot as a pepper plant..We used to go many years ago to that Kite festival but since the weather people state that the smoke and heat has descended there we stay home..We are in a 100 year drought and a lot of places are burning and wild fires everywhere..Enjoy your stay at the Washington coast. The governor of Oregon Kate Brown has banned all fires at the Oregon coast and everywhere due to the wild fires and all the destruction!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It’s the same here. There’s been a campfire ban at Cape D State Park since we’ve been here. No fires at all. It’s just far too dry. Weather has been cool all summer though, and mostly clear apart from the last few days. This PM is nice and clear again.
What a lovely story and the kites are beautiful….
I was blown away by the story on those kites. It was definitely a special moment.
Jim McG says
Great pics, as ever. Do you use an expensive camera/SLR? Or any specialist software? Your pictures make me want to dig out the Canon T2i that I spent ridiculous money on a few years ago (currently gathering dust in a cupboard) and learn how to use it properly!
For this particular set of shots I broke out my SLR which is an older Nikon D7000 with 18-200mm lens. Usually I use a pocket camera, but I needed the bigger zoom here. I do use photoshop on my pics too, but mostly for smaller adjustments to color and brightness. Sometimes I’ll get more creative post-processing with HDR and such, but I didn’t use any of that for these shots
Love your pictures, and love following your RV adventure. I am in Toronto Ontario and live full time as well, we have great friends who are flying at that festival….if you are interested they are always looking to teach more people the art of flying. They have flown all over the world and on the USS Midway Museum.
How lovely!! We’re actually down to our last week here, so between work shifts and last-minute prep and stocking up I don’t think we’ll be getting out much. I think I would like to try sometime though. The festival definitely created that itch.
I really like the swirls and twirls kite but….do you have any pictures of the butterfly kite behind that one? I would love to see that one closer. Nice bright pictures.
No, unfortunately I don’t. They were little string kites if I recall correctly. Very cute.
Fran Bell says
Ah yes, correct!! My dyslexia strikes again. Thanks for the catch. I’ve corrected the post.
Sherry in MT says
That looks like a great thing to go see – now on bucket list! But holy cowabunga look how big some of those kites are!
Yeah some of them were HUGE! It was hard to get the scale in the pics, but I tried to include a shot of people by the bigger ones for perspective. There were lots of those big ones out there.
J. L. Graham says
Most of the largest kites were 252 square feet. The smallest was less than one inch square. Quite a range, and there’s something for nearly everyone. I wish I’d known about kiting when I was still full-timing it.
Jil mohr says
great photos especially loved the wonder bread and ballet ones…can’t wait for you to experience the balloon fiesta… It will blow you away….
Hope the fires are over by the time you leave… I have friends that were near them and who have families evacuated…safe travels
Those little Wonder Bread kites were really pretty. I just loved the way they danced in the wind….and of course the story behind them made them even more appealing.
Jodee Gravel says
So bright and cheerful, and I love the power and delicacy of wind. You really captured all of that here, as well as the serendipity of meeting the son of the Wonder Bread man 🙂 We keep missing summer festivals on our route and I’ll make sure to pay more attention from now on. Got to Sequim two days after the Lavender Fesitival 🙁 Thanks for sharing a great day.
It took us a few years on the road before we actually managed to plan around festivals (such as that lavender festival in Sequim) LOL. Many of our festivals have just been pure luck, but we do try to plan a bit better these days.
This is a nice little reference:
I have never spent much time flying kites but was smitten when I first went to a park in SF years ago and saw the myriad of colors and shapes take to the sky. There is something that speaks to the kid inside me when I see kites flying. I would have loved to see this festival. Beautiful shots Nina!
I have to admit it was more fun than I imagined. I’m glad I went in the end.
Beautiful, I never knew about this festival. I will put it in our must do festival file for our RV travels. Great photos Nina.
It’s a fun stop and it actually goes on for a whole week. Lots of spots to stay around the festival including multiple private RV parks in Long Beach/Ilwaco area as well Cape Disappointment State Park (just 10 mins away).
Just wanted to say Thanks for stopping by. “Wonder Bread Arch Kite” belong to my father “Jim” Last 3 years my husband and I took care of him. I have to admit I never went to Kite Festival. As a kid, dad would take out to fly kites, he would make for us. Sometime we would buy kites, but we really like it better when dad made us one. We were going to bring dad this year, but he pass away in May. My Husband and I decided we wanted to bring his kite down one more time for him. Afterward we donate it to the Kite Museum, in Long Beach, WA.
Again thanks for stopping by.
I can’t believe you found my blog! I really loved your dad’s kite. Such a beautiful memorial to him that you bought it to fly at the festival. Thank you for sharing more of your story. Honestly I was deeply touched by both the kite and your dad’s memory. Thanks so much for commenting!
Way cool kite pictures, must have been surreal to be there in person. Thanks.
Amy Doran says
Great write up! The exact same thing happened to me 11 years ago. It completely changed my life. Since then my son Connor also started flying kites as well. And the cool thing is you have only seen a small part of the kite world. There is also indoor kite flying and competition which was at the elementary school gym three nights of the festival. There is kite buggying, sport kite flying, team flying… Not to mention kite building, which is a I fun and creative. The list goes on and on. I hope you get a chance to come back. We would love to teach you how to fly a sport kite indoors or outdoors ! Warmly,
Amy and Connor
That morning at the festival definitely left me wanting more. I’m particularly bummed I missed the night ascension (lit kites) the evening before, and I do think the indoor flying would have been something special to see. Thanks so much for the lovely offer. We’re going to be working lots of rig projects (which of course we left to the last minute) before we leave this weekend, so it’ll be pedal to the metal here, but I will definitely seek out more kite flying in the future. The Kite Festival has changed me!
J. L. Graham says
Pacific Beach State park is the site of the “Up Your Wind” festival, 11-13 Sep., followed by Whidbey Island Kite Festival, 18-20 Sep. at Camp Casey Conference Center.
Every festival has a slightly different flavor and focus, and they are each fun in their own way.
Excellent input! Thank you!
Amy Doran says
And by the way, the American Kite fliers Association shared your blog link on their Facebook page .
Oh now I understand how the Wonder Bread Arch Kite owners found me! I never mentioned my blog or writing when we spoke at the festival since I was just so absorbed in the beautiful story of their kite and the passing of their father. I was absolutely astonished to see them comment here. What a wonderful community of people!
sherry johnston says
loved the wonder bread wrapers kite. It was wonderful, and such a beautiful tribute to his father.
sherry johnston says
Nina; I absolutely love your site and my husband and I couldn’t get through the week without your blog. Only 25 more months till we are full-timers. My question for you and any other blogger out there who might know is why in some parks there are age restrictions on your rig. We have a 40ft 2002 Newmar diesel pusher, but looking at reserving space in some parks especially CA we have noticed the age restriction. Any ideas/suggestions will be appreciated.
Usually it’s some kind of “look” or insurance restriction (on the park’s side). For the most part the age thing is negotiable and is typically there to avoid really old, out-of-shape rigs in the park. If your rig is in good shape they’ll often let you in regardless of age, and honestly if your rig is within 1-2 years of the “approved” 10-year limit I’d probably just recommend stretching the age a bit. The rule is usually just there to keep the worst-looking rigs out of the park, and I’ve never heard of a park actually checking the RV age details. So, if your rig looks good and is not obviously antique, it’s unlikely you’ll ever be asked to provide paperwork for it.
If you camp at public parks (COE, state parks, national forest, national park etc.) there are never any age restrictions.