OB Kite Festival set to take to skies for the 66th year
by DAVE SCHWAB
May 08, 2014 | 14358 views | 0 0 comments | 16 16 recommendations | email to a friend | print
A youngster is all smiles as she manages to get her handmade kite flying high at a previous Ocean Beach Kiwanis Kite Festival. Photo by Jim Grant
A youngster is all smiles as she manages to get her handmade kite flying high at a previous Ocean Beach Kiwanis Kite Festival. Photo by Jim Grant
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This year’s Ocean Beach Kiwanis Kite Festival is marking its 66th installment — reportedly the nation’s oldest children’s kite festival.                                                                  Photo by Jim Grant
This year’s Ocean Beach Kiwanis Kite Festival is marking its 66th installment — reportedly the nation’s oldest children’s kite festival. Photo by Jim Grant
slideshow
Dusty Rhodes Park will be host site to the 66th annual Ocean Beach Kiwanis Kite Festival on Saturday, May 10, the day before Mother’s Day, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The free, family-oriented community event is touted by organizers as being the nation’s oldest children’s kite festival.

Rescheduled because of a rainout in March, the festival will again feature free kite making and kite flying for children, demonstrations by professional kite flyers, carnival rides and a craft fair.

This year was the first time in memory that rain postponed the Ocean Beach Kiwanis Kite Festival. The late Marion Miller (aka “The Kite Lady”), who organized the festival for decades, always guaranteed it would be a nice day for the event, saying she had “a special understanding with the Man Upstairs.”

New this year at the kite festival — which is co-sponsored by the Kiwanis Club and the Ocean Beach Recreation Center — will be San Diego’s finest gourmet food trucks. Participating children will be offered free hot dogs.

“It’s one of the biggest yearly events on our schedule, along with canine Howl-o-ween,” said Ocean Beach Kiwanian John F. McCarthy, who added the kite festival has become a club and community “tradition” for what is now going on seven decades.

“It’s just our way of giving back,” said McCarthy. “It’s very well attended. Last year, we made close to 1,000 kites and had between 30 and 70 local artisans, as well as live music by the band Deerfeet. It’s a lot of fun.”

This year, the kite festival was moved from the Ocean Beach Recreation Center and Ocean Beach Elementary School to new digs at Dusty Rhodes Park to give it some breathing room and allow it to expand.

Last year, for the first time, professional kite fliers were introduced, delighting the crowds by giving younger aviators one-on-one instruction. They’ll return again this year.

Glen Rothstein, regional director of the American Kiteflyers Association, said his group is happy to help with the annual OB Kiwanis Kite Festival.

“There will be people from our group down there with handmade and custom kites. Some of them do this as a business and, for some, it’s a side business,” said Rothstein. “We’re going to be doing professional kite demonstrations, maneuvering kites in the sky, doing kite ballets and flying kites to music, similar to figure-skating competitions where entrants are judged on their technical ability and timing.”

Rothstein said there will also be kite contests for kids.

“We’ll have kite-tail chases for kids with someone flying a maneuverable kite and kids running after it and grabbing its tail to win a prize,” he said.

He added there’s also a kite piñata” a big kite with a bag releasing candy for kids while aloft.

The Kiwanis Club of Ocean Beach started the festival in 1948 to give children the opportunity to design, build and decorate their own kites.  Every year, “alumni” return who were participants in the first very first of these kite festivals. 

“Now we get to see those alumni come back with their children, their children’s children and even their children’s children’s children,” said McCarthy. “I think that makes it a truly awesome event.”

For more information about the festival, call (619) 225-8705 or (619) 890-9397. For more information about kite flying in general, email glen.e.roth-stein@gmail.com.
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