OB Kite Festival set to take flight Saturday
by TRISH CLENNEY BROWN
Mar 04, 2009 | 2562 views | 0 0 comments | 17 17 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Children and adults alike will take part in the high-flying fun of the Ocean Beach Kite Festival this weekend.
	PAUL HANSEN | THE BEACON
Children and adults alike will take part in the high-flying fun of the Ocean Beach Kite Festival this weekend. PAUL HANSEN | THE BEACON
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Ocean Beach will let fly a longstanding community tradition on Saturday, March 7 with its 61st annual kite festival.

The kite festival is sponsored by the Kiwanis Club of Ocean Beach, the Ocean Beach Recreation Center, the Point Loma Community Recreation Center and the San Diego Park and Recreation Department.

The event represents lighthearted fun, colorful and fanciful artwork and amazing aerodynamics. This year’s event will include the traditional elements: kite making, a parade, kite flying, carnival rides and a crafts fair.

Added to this year’s festivities will be llama rides.

The OB festival is believed to be the oldest kite festival for children in the nation, according to Melanie Nickel, OB Kiwanis Club president.

“It’s a third-generation festival, with people who attended as children themselves now bringing their grandchildren,” said Nickel, whose husband, Jim, participated in the first kite festival in 1948 when the kites were made of newspaper and sticks.

Today’s children will make their kites at the OB Recreation Center using kits that are so easy to construct that 18-month-olds have accomplished the task. In addition to being failproof, the special kite kits truly are designed to fly. But while the kites start out essentially all looking the same, they are distinct and different after the children have decorated them to their own tastes.

The kite making will take place from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. at the recreation center. Participants can break for a free lunch of hot dogs and punch, served from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. in the courtyard of Ocean Beach Elementary School, where live music will entertain them. Adults may also lunch for a donation.

Festival-goers who choose not to make a kite can take in the craft fair booths and the amusement rides on Santa Monica Boulevard from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. The craft fair features items from handmade jewelry to birdhouses.

The rides usually include a jump house, flying swings and games, along with llama rides. Organizers said there is a charge for the rides.

Kite judging takes place at 1 p.m. in the elementary school courtyard. Awards will be given in separate divisions — according to age group — from toddlers through high school students.

Prizes are awarded for the most unique kite, the best decorated and the one with the best theme.

Following the award ceremony, a parade is set to begin at 2:05 p.m., with kite flyers marching down Santa Monica Boulevard with their new creations. The parade ends at the beach with freestyle kite flying.

“The kite festival is a lot of work,” said Nickel. “When it’s over, we’re tired. But we can say, ‘We’ve made a lot of people happy today.’”

This year’s festival is dedicated to the woman whose name was synonymous with the event for many years — Marion Miller, affectionately known to generations as “the Kite Lady.” In her honor, the March 7 parade’s grand marshals will be Miller’s granddaughter and two great grandsons.

Miller, a longtime community volunteer, died in August after having proudly orchestrated the historic 60th OB Kite Festival in March 2008. She was the first female member of the Kiwanis Club of Ocean Beach and served as its president seven times.

Miller was also such a significant contributor to Ocean Beach Elementary School that the school named its new library the Marion Miller Library.

“We miss her sorely,” said Nickel.

For more information, call (619) 531-1527.
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